By Mackenzie Berube
Kevin Flike became an American hero after overcoming the experience of a near-fatal wound while deployed for the United States Army in Afghanistan in 2011.
FSU showcased the short film, “Wounded by War,” Nov. 5, shot and produced by FSU alum Mike Neilan, and Champlain College alum Mike McDonough. The movie follows the story of Flike, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and his journey overcoming his injuries.
Flike always had a “strong desire to serve” his country, especially because of the tragedy of 9/11 occurring during his senior year of high school.
He joined the Army’s boot camp, and passionly wanted to become a Green Beret. The training was extensive and a “culture shock” as he was meeting people from “all walks of life.”
“I lost about 30 pounds that month,” said Flike, but that the effort was worth it, when he became a Green Beret.
Upon receiving the honor of the beret, his 12-man team was deployed first to the Philippines and then, following 9/11, to Afghanistan.
On Sept. 25, 2011, during a 10-hour fight with the Taliban, Flike was shot in his lower abdomen. He was carried for 45 minutes to a helicopter to be air-lifted to the hospital.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Flike. He ended up with 40 inches of scars, and lost 20% of his colon and the ability to walk. While in the hospital, Flike got the “best advice” from another wounded soldier, telling him, “Don’t be a f***ing p***y.”
With this advice, he was fueled to do better and walk again. However, with months and months of physical therapy, he still struggled, needing an experimental surgery at the Mayo Clinic.
“I had nothing to lose and needed to have done everything to make myself feel better,” said Flike, who decided to go ahead with the surgery.
After the procedure, he spent every day trying to walk again and after accomplishing this, and after a long road to recovery, Flike pushed forward, attending the Harvard Business School and MIT.
“I wanted to quit more than the special forces,” said Flike, describing how difficult his studies were. He completed his education, getting his master’s and marrying his childhood sweetheart. They now have two daughters and have been married for eight years.
Neilan and McDonough concluded the showing with a Q and A from the audience, touching topics of addiction, depression, and pushing through hard times.
“Do you think this story could resonate with victims of violence and trauma that aren’t related to the military?” asked an audience member.
“Faith is very important to me. I think I went through all of this to gain experience – that my whole life is a plan. Now I have this empathy for people that I wouldn’t normally have, going through PTSD, depression, anxiety and addiction. It’s important for me to get my story out because I think it would help people on many different levels,” said Flike.
“I think it resonates with people who haven’t been to war because people go through stuff – it’s not just veterans who go through hard times, or who have PTSD. I think that was a lesson I had to learn, because I had been in the military for so long. People go through a lot of s*** in their lives, and we are all just trying to get through this together.”
Another audience member asked, “Would you go back and do it again?”
“Ten out of 10 times I would go back and do everything exactly the same. I think going through hard times in life refine[s] your character. The lesson I learned from this is that when I’m going through something difficult, I tell myself to not give up and not quit – that allows me to gain perspective,” said Flike.