Overcome Any Challenges In Life With Justin Constantine
Justin Constantine is a giver by nature. But one spring day in 2006, he took a valued prize from a man he’d never know.
The enemy sniper had been racking up prizes in that area for a few weeks. More than one of his bullets claimed a Marine’s life, and Justin was hyper-vigilant as a result.
“You may want to move quicker here,” Justin warned a reporter. “Don’t forget about the sniper.”
Alarmed by the warning, the reporter took a giant step forward at the same moment the sniper’s bullet hurled through the empty space the reporter’s head had just occupied. One millisecond was all that stood between that reporter becoming a sniper’s prize or living to tell the story, and Justin’s warning was what made the difference.
Perhaps angry but still undaunted, the sniper instantly sent another bullet out in search of a prize. This one blasted into Justin’s head, behind his left ear. It tore through his head and unleashed its fury as it exploded out of his mouth, causing incredible damage.
Almost everyone there thought the sniper had claimed another prize. Justin had gone down, motionless except for the blood pouring out of his wound.
The sniper had announced his presence loud and clear. It would be suicide for anyone to expose themselves to his lethal expertise, but that’s precisely what Navy Corpsman George Grant did.
“I probably should have died,” says Justin. “Anyone could have done anything differently and I wouldn’t have made it, and no one would have blamed them.”
Instead, a 25-year-old corpsman ran to Justin’s side and performed heroic, lifesaving efforts on him. A colonel and a 21-year-old corporal threw caution to the wind as they raced down IED-laden roads, carrying Justin to an aid station.
It’s a gripping story, for sure, packed with heroism and tragedy. Justin tells it well and he tells it often. He’s told it to thousands of people from hundreds of stages. Each time he tells it, though, the emphasis is not on his pain and suffering. Rather, it’s on what his mindset was before and after his injury, how so many people worked heroically and tirelessly to help him see another day, the power of unrelenting love, and the full circle he traveled as a one-time recipient of charitable assistance, to an active force in the nonprofit world.
Impressive, isn’t it?
Yes, if you ask, Justin will tell you how frustrating it is not to be able to run anymore. But he won’t even pause for a breath before he follows up with saying he can still walk and swim. He will tell you how lonely a hospital room can be but then share beautiful stories of his wife Dahlia, who walked away from one of her life’s dreams to live their own personal love story together.
He will tell you how difficult it is to speak now that he’s missing a significant piece of his tongue, but he will be telling you that, clearly, even though he is missing a big piece of his tongue. He’ll share details of his injury and recovery, and extract leadership lessons from those details.
Justin notes his survival is due to “part miracle and part amazing people.” It was his fellow warriors who risked their own lives to save him. It was teams of medical professionals who worked diligently to repair as much of the physical damage to Justin’s body as possible. It was his psychologist who counseled him through addressing his PTSD and emerging from it. It was the people and the organizations who stepped in to help him along his way.
Justin Constantine speaks openly about his own accountability for his life.
The doctors could only do so much for him. They could rebuild his jaw, but Justin would have to rebuild his life. He’s done so in spectacular fashion not because it was easy, but because he committed to himself and to Dahlia. Then he committed to using his experience to help others.
A lot of people face catastrophic events in life. Some move past them and some do not. A pivotal determination in this outcome, says Justin, is mindset. Another is the circle of people in your life.
“So much of recovery is about mindset, choosing what path you want in life, and who you want to be around.”
Justin faced his recovery the same way he faces every day – with a positive mindset.I always think life is good and life is going to keep getting better. – Justin ConstantineClick To Tweet
That mindset had been his north star every day prior to his injury. He still follows it today.
Justin speaks openly about the physical and emotional pain and stress he endured during his recovery. He admits there are still some days he’s smacked with a wave of frustration. He no longer enjoys a meal like he did before since chewing is a struggle. Sometimes, drool escapes his lips. For twelve years he’s been dealing with the ripple effects of that sniper’s bullet, and some days he indulges in wishing his struggles would be over.
That, he says, is also a healthy part of healing – acknowledging the frustration and fatigue instead of bottling it up or denying they exist. By doing so he’s able to prevent that frustration and fatigue from dominating his mindset and his life.
Twelve years after the sniper nearly claimed Justin as another prize, Justin is leading others through their own challenges. He’s now on the board of several non-profits centered on veterans’ resources.
One of these organizations is Wounded Warrior Project, which he was once a beneficiary of. He’s the co-founder of Veteran Success Resource Group and sits on the boards of Psych Armor and GI Go. Collectively, these organizations offer financial, emotional, and business resources to veterans. Justin serves as a beacon of hope for others facing injuries and struggling to transition to civilian life.
Justin Constantine is also an author, a keynote speaker, and Chief Business Development Officer at Job Path, a veterans’ employment platform that’s quickly grown into a leading resource for veterans and employers.
Finding employment, says Justin, is a big part of recovery. His position at Job Path, in addition to all the non-profit work he does, leads other veterans to their potential in business and along the path to building a new life after the military.
Yes, he says, this country faces challenges. But he also understands the immense opportunities within our borders – especially for veterans and their spouses. With his own circle of support and hefty doses of sheer will, Justin is now a conduit to those opportunities.
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