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Soldiers of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, listen to Jared Estes on May 12, 2016.

Fire back: Burn survivor shares his road to recovery

By Maria Childs, 1ST INF. DIV. POST, May 20 2016


Capt. Elizabeth Bell, commander of Company D, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, has been in command for six months, and experienced Soldiers receiving two DUIs in that time. She said Estes provided the in-depth training they were looking for.

“I feel very fortunate that we were able to get Jared to talk to us,” Bell said.  “He totally blew me away. I knew what his presentation was about, but he goes so much deeper than ‘don’t drink and drive.’  He goes into reaching goals, overcoming obstacles and overcoming suicide and depression … I felt like he was able to reach so much more of my formation than I originally anticipated.”


Sgt. Jennifer McAden, Co. D, 2nd GSAB, 1st Avn. Regt., 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., said it was inspiring to hear about Estes going to a dark place and finding a way to use what caused that pain to bring his message to the Fort Riley community.


“He has the strongest story of resiliency I’ve ever seen,” McAden said. “He was able to tell his story and keep it light despite the truth behind everything. I think it’s good to see someone who has been affected by a DUI, so Soldiers can see how selfish it is and how it does not just affect them.”

Jared Estes shares, brings tears, laughter to Fort Riley By Hannah Kloepfer 

“I learned a lot about resilience,” said Maj. Erik Peterson, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment,

1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.


“Everyone’s in a bad situation, and you see somebody suffering something like this, and then setting goals to get

past and keep going.”


Goals were something Estes realized he needed after accomplishing his only goal of getting to his late wife’s grave. While that was a short-term goal, he needed long-term goals to get him through.


“The biggest thing to me was him realizing that his short-term goals weren’t enough and that he would have to push through some difficulty and find long-term goals to get through a really hard circumstance,” said Pfc. James Clark, 2nd Bn., 34th Armor Regt., 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div.


At the end of Estes’ story, Soldiers rendered a standing ovation that echoed throughout Morris Hill Chapel. Maj. Peterson then presented Estes with a battalion coin. 


Speaker urges community members to "fire back," overcome challenges

By Melody Everly - The Mountaineer Online 

After the presentation, a young Soldier waited to thank Estes not only for

sharing his story that day, but for changing the course of his life years ago.

“I saw him back in 2011 or 2012 at Fort Riley, (Kan.),” said the Soldier,

who asked not to be identified. “He got me out of a dark time in my life.

I had lost seven friends, and what he said helped get me out of that.”


Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Jenkins said that he felt the presentation was especially relevant to Soldiers, who need to be resilient in order to face all that they do as they accomplish the mission.


“As noncommissioned officers and squad leaders, we need to teach our Soldiers to overcome whatever they are going through,” he said.


“This (presentation) shows that you can bounce back from any situation that you may encounter.” Lori Starr, Suicide Prevention Program manager for Fort Drum’s Army Substance Abuse Program, said that the staff had asked Estes to speak at Fort Drum because they had heard so many positive things about his message from staff at Fort Riley.

Jared impacts soldiers at Fort Drum, New York

4th MEB Soldiers hear message of resilience

By Sgt. Kelly Malone - Special to Guidon 


One Soldier said he was heavily impacted after hearing Estes speak

about his life lesson regarding making good choices.

“It makes you think a lot about the choices of what you do after work,” said Pfc. Anthony Le, bridge crew member, 50th Multi Role Bridge Company, 5th Engineer Battalion. “The safety briefs we always get before the weekend starts usually go in one ear and out the other. Just listening to Jared, it makes them stick in your head.”

Estes espoused several other life lessons during his visit, including attitude.

Spc. Zachary Lacy, military police officer, 988th Military Police Company, 92nd Military Police Battalion, said his attitude about self-pity changed after listening to Estes’ presentation.

“People in the military do have a lot of self-pity, because they get a ticket or are about to get an Article 15, so they start feeling sorry for themselves,” Lacy said. 

Royals honor fiery car crash survivor with Buck O'Neil seat

KCTV5 - Kansas City 


The Royals honor inspirational fans by inviting them to sit in the seat

named after baseball legend.

Estes was chosen for Game 4 of the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles.


“It's like a big time bucket-list dream come true. Just being at this game is huge,” he said. “For something like this to happen, it's crazy.”


He said the Royals have fought to survive just like he did and proved their doubters wrong.


“Watching them fight was so inspiring. They inspired me so much. It means ten times as much to be here today with this particular group of guys to watch them on the field in person from this seat, I'm so happy. I'm blown away," he said.

Lessons learned from a tragedy- By MICHAEL STRAND Salina Journal


A drunken driver plowed into his car, killing Paige, the high school sweetheart he'd been

married to for just six months.


He spent two weeks in a coma and months in a hospital as the burns that covered half of his

body slowly healed.


Finally, Jared Estes was well enough to visit his wife's grave.  He'd had plenty of time to think about what he'd do when he got there.  Estes told students Tuesday afternoon at Southeast of Saline High School; he planned to kneel over her grave, pick up clumps of dirt and finally let loose of all of the tears he'd been holding in.


But he found he couldn't kneel, splints on his hands prevented him from picking up dirt, and recent surgeries to repair his eyelids meant he couldn't cry, either.


In his frustration, he said, one thought came to him: "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you wish you were dead."

Man burned in 2005 crash that killed wife to pursue career telling his story to help others

Annie Calovich, Wichita Eagle, January 2014


When bad things happen in life, from the smallest slight to the greatest tragedy, that's not the

time to turn inward, stay angry or give up, Jared Estes says.

Instead, each setback is an opportunity to enter more deeply into the gift of life, by opening outward, seeing the good that is there, being thankful for it and then giving yourself, says Estes, who has experienced pain of the most tragic sort.  ...


Now, almost nine years after the accident, Estes, 34, has left his job as marketing director of Hartman Arena to make a living giving his talks.  Some friends, meaning to support him, say they're glad he's following his dream.  But reliving the greatest horror of his life in the course of giving his talks isn't his dream, he says.

Crash Survivor to Run in Wife's Honor​- Amy Renee Leiker, Wichita Eagle

Estes says running was an integral part of the years he's spent recovering — and one of the reasons the foundation Estes founded to remember his late wife, Paige Estes, is sponsoring the second annual Fun Run and Walk at the Prairie Fire Marathon, held Oct. 8 and 9 in Wichita.


It's the sort of event Paige — nicknamed Smiles — would have enjoyed, Estes said.


"With Paige being such a positive person and with this being such a positive event ... everything just fit together perfectly."


Proceeds from the Paige Estes Memorial Fun Run and Walk will benefit the Via Christi Regional Burn Center, where Estes spent five months in in-patient care after the accident.

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