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Kegan Gill on How to Not Just Survive but Thrive in Life

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This podcast is one of the most mind-altering, jaw-dropping, and inspiring episodes I’ve ever released, and I really appreciate Kegan for being so vulnerable.

Kegan “SMurF” Gill (@kegansmurfgill) is a former US Navy F/A-18E strike fighter pilot. He endured the fastest survived ejection in the history of naval aviation. Despite devastating injuries, he returned to flying Super Hornets until the effects of his traumatic brain injury and a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD ended his military career. He is now on a journey to heal his mind, body, and soul.

In this episode, Kegan Gill discusses his harrowing story of survival and overcoming the traumatic injuries he sustained when ejecting into the sound barrier. I first met Kegan at the Warrior Angels Foundation 4X4X48 in Texas. As we ran and he told me his story, I was in disbelief he was even alive much less running. In addition to overcoming trauma, Kegan is also fighting for other veterans who the current medical protocols have mistreated.

If you are dealing with issues related to traumatic brain injury, PTSD, brain health, or anything of the like, contact the Warrior Angels Foundation and VETS to learn more. You can also donate to the cause of helping veterans get their lives back.

Please also check out my interview with Warrior Angels Co-Founder Andrew Marr.

Going 604 knots indicated airspeed which is equivalent to 695 miles per hour or point nine five indicated Mach which is 95%, the speed of sound. So basically I am at the sound barrier. And at that point, my only option was to get out of the jet. And two seconds before the jet impacted the water, I pulled the ejection handle. And coming out at that speed was devastating to my body.

Kegan Gill

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Kegan Gill’s Heroic Story of Survival and Incredible Resilience

Kegan Gill was a US Navy Strike-Fighter Pilot (F-18E Super Hornet) and ejected into the sound barrier as his plane conducted a dogfight during a training exercise over the Atlantic Ocean. Kegan sustained catastrophic wounds that literally ripped his body apart and a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in his ejection.

F-18 aircraft breaking the sound barrier for Passion Struck

He landed in the frigid shark-infested waters of the Atlantic off the Virginia Beach coast with a protective wet suit torn to pieces. With his parachute attached, continuously dunking him and unable to move his arms, Kegan survived the freezing water two hours before being rescued. Luckily, it stopped him from bleeding out because of his hypothermic state.

Kegan underwent months of recovery from his injuries, during which the doctors told his family and squadron mates he would likely not survive, and if he did, he would never walk again, much less fly a plane. Despite the odds stacked against him, Kegan recovered from his catastrophic injuries, went on to score a perfect PFT, and made the unlikely return to flying the F-18 and rejoining a new squadron. Unfortunately, that was short-lived as he started to experience long-term effects from delayed-onset PTSD and his TBI.

Over time, his injuries caused Kegan to experience intense but brief psychosis. During one of these episodes, he was rushed to the emergency room and admitted to a VA Mental Health Facility. Kegan’s body was rejecting the multitude of pharmaceutical interventions he was prescribed, which worsened his condition in many ways.

Kegan was miraculously able to ween himself off his psych meds and has since sought alternative treatments at the physiological level for his brain health through the nonprofits: Warrior Angels Foundation and VET Solutions. We discuss how he is trying to survive and thrive in life again.

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Quote by Kegan Gill about ejecting from his F-18 at the speed of sound for passion struck podcast

New to the show? These Starter Packs are collections of our most popular episodes grouped by topic, and we now have them also on Spotify. You can also browse starter packs for existing listeners to find your old favorites. Every week, John interviews everyday heroes from all walks of life. Learn how to subscribe to the show and never miss a new episode and topic.

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More About How Not Just to Survive but Thrive in Life with Kegan Gill

During our interview on Passion Struck, I asked Kegan Gill about what has been the most significant turning point in his recovery since the incident.

Kegan responds, “When I started to have my brain treated at a physiological level. Dr. Michael Lewis and Dr. Mark Gordon are a couple of the physicians on the leading edge of this. They are focused on how we help people’s brains heal at a physiological level, rather than just prescribing veterans with a bunch of pharmaceutical drugs that essentially just suppress symptoms and really aggravate the situation over time.

I’m kind of on this new path to holistic healing, and it’s been life-changing. I’m just kind of beginning this new journey in a lot of ways. But for the first time, I have hope again in my life. I have hope that I’m not only going just to survive but thrive in life. Thrive as a parent and a husband. I don’t know what my future is, at this point. I’ve just kind of been waking up from the fog. But, it’s incredibly encouraging to have the support that I have now.

I know that there are options out there that I don’t have to be just stuck on a bunch of drugs, the rest of my life feeling miserable.

Thanks, Kegan Gill!

If you enjoyed this interview with Kegan Gill, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout on Instagram:

Click here to thank Kegan Gill on Instagram!

Click here to let John R. Miles know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].

Resources From The Show With Kegan Gill

Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Passion Struck podcast receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you so much for being so supportive!

* My interview with Admiral James Stavridis

* My interview with Vice Admiral Ted Carter

* My interview with Navy Seal and Astronaut Chris Cassidy

* My interview with Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet

* My interview with astronaut Captain Wendy Lawrence

* My interview with Navy Seal Mark Divine

* My interview with Gretchen Rubin about knowing yourself

* My interview with Dr. Michelle Segar on her new book “The Joy Choice”

* My most recent solo episode on why your brain dictates your reality and how to boost its performance

*My Solo episode on work-life balance:

*Solo episode on overcoming burnout: 

*Solo episode on how you stop living in fear: 

About Today’s Guest Kegan Gill

Passion Struck with John R. Miles album cover for episode 141 with F-18 Pilot Kegan Gill

In January 2014 I ejected from a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet at 695 mph. The fastest survived ejection in the history of naval aviation. The violent ejection left me with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), broken neck, broken arms, broken legs, and a variety of nerve and blood vessel damage. The speed of the ejection shredded my drysuit and I plunged into the icy Atlantic Ocean.

My physical and mental ailments are still there but the healthier I eat, the smarter I train, the more fresh air and sunlight I experience, and the more grateful I become the better my life becomes around me. I have stumbled upon this more holistic approach to health and I hope this podcast helps others break free from the nightmare of the pharmaceutical industrial complex. I hope that someday these emerging holistic forms of entheogen treatment become the default program for injured veterans instead of just being pumped full of pharmaceutical drugs.

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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the PassionStruckPodcast. A show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s highest achievers to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better and impact.

Stay tuned for John’s latest project, his upcoming book, which will be published in summer 2022.

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