MRS. BOWMANS MISSION
Congressional Testimony of Mrs. Coleen Bowman
"In July 1991 I met my husband SGM Robert J Bowman. I was 20 years old. Six months after we met, we were married in January 1993. Together we raised four beautiful daughters, moving every 2-3 years and living the life of an Army family.
The morning of 9/11/01 we woke to a new “normal” Our new life was a life of war and deployments. Rob deployed to Mosul, Iraq in October 2004 he was gone one year. In 2007, in support of the surge, Rob deployed to Iraq again for 15 months, he was in and around Baghdad.
Rob was infantry, he was an Airborne Army Ranger, he was a “guys, guy” even when it came to his four daughters. He taught them how to shoot with a 22, he made sure they each knew how to bait their own hooks with a worm, so they could engage in another one of his favorite past times, fishing. We would take the girls camping every summer in his favorite place in Wyoming, where he instilled the same love he had for it in our four girls. He loved that they each enjoyed that part of his life, but you could also find his soft spot for his girls. He would brush their hair, and give his best effort to make “perfect pony tails” he would play with them on the floor while they had all their baby dolls out, and he always took the time to appreciate each of them in their interests.
The men that Rob served with say “every time I heard Bowman’s voice come over the radio, I felt safe. He had a calming nature to him that always assured me in times of heated battles, that it would be okay” Rob loved serving his country and leading his men more than anything, but he always managed to make me feel like I came first. He was a gentle spirit in manner, but in battle, a fierce fighter. He was a warrior right up until his very last breath.
On January 13, 2013 our four daughters lost their HERO, this world lost a HERO, and a true patriot.
In the past 6 years since his death, I have learned so much about Toxic Exposure. Shortly after Rob’s diagnosis in 2011, as word got out to the men he served with in Iraq, we started receiving phone calls and messages about the rest of his platoon. Many of the men he served with were showing up with strange illnesses, they all talked about the burn pits, and the many other toxins they remembered being exposed to. We knew almost immediately after his diagnosis that his extremely rare cancer he had was due to the toxins he was exposed to while in Iraq. His Doctor had been seeing a trend in very young service members that were coning up with strange cancer for their ages. His Doctor ran the BRAC test to identify the gene that caused the cancer, and it was not present. It was a genetic mutation caused from environment. We took that knowledge and shared with as many service members that we could, in hopes of bringing awareness to it. I learned through my experience the daily struggles of being a caregiver to my husband, and our four daughters was one of the most challenging things I had ever been through. I realized how fortunate we were to have a Doctor that was smart on this topic, and able to understand immediately that this was toxic exposure.
I believe that we can do some things to help those that will walk the same path as me and my family have walked. If we educate our medical community on this “modern day agent orange” they can quickly identify the service members that have been exposed to burn pits and other toxins. This will ensure quicker diagnosis, and proper treatment to give them a better chance of survival. My husband lived about 10 months longer than the Doctors expected, and I am sure it was because his Doctor was educated on toxic exposure in our service members.
The extra 10 months we had him, was precious and priceless, I am so thankful to have had that time, and for our girls to have had that time. I believe that in educating the medical community, this will also help caregivers from day one of diagnosis. I remember feeling very scared, lost and confused, I wish I had more guidance to help me navigate through the process. Not only do we need to educate our medical community, we need to educate the American people, we need to help people understand that our Military went to war when called, unfortunately , many are returning sick, we must take care of them when they return. My hope is that bringing awareness to this very critical issue will help us all better understand how we can help our Military men and women, who will continue to call on us for help..."
HUNTER7 | HUNTERSEVEN
How a callsign from Iraq became a worldwide medically-based nonprofit
"I'll never forget that conversation, it was the winter of 2015, we had just started dating, I was in my nursing undergrad. program... we were sitting in his work truck at the time and I remember he (Kyle Simoni) pulled up an article from ArmyTimes about a MSgt. Battling Cancer while in the SgtMaj Academy in Fort Bliss.. and he said that was his MSgt. from Iraq... he had a rare form of cancer. Kyle showed me two other guys, Sully (Sgt. Patrick Sullivan) who died from respiratory failure days after leaving Iraq and Shawn (Ssg. Shawn McCann) who died from Leukemia... It hit me hard. I had so many questions, that is when I found Coleen Bowman and reached out through Facebook, that was nearly 4 year ago, we talk quite often, weekly phone calls, daily texts. We are on the same mission..."