By 1st Lt. Robin Pyo | 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Motivational speaker Victor Marx visited Fort Carson Sept. 16-17 to share his personal, inspirational story of overcoming adversity with the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson community.
With him was Scout, a top-tier security Belgian Malinois dressed in a canine tactical vest. As the two silently entered McMahon Auditorium, Soldiers seated inside turned their heads to look at the pair in quiet wonder and curiosity.
Marx stood at over 6 feet tall with broad shoulders in a dark blue suit. The former Special Operations Forces Marine captivated the audience with light jokes and demonstrated his quick gun-disarming skill with a volunteer. He also introduced Scout and described her as “a therapy dog that bites.”
Once the audience warmed up, Marx told the story of his challenging childhood. He described it as marked with physical and sexual abuse, multiple stepfathers and several home and school relocations. He shared gruesome details of some of the physical torture he went through as a child and mentioned his encounters with drugs and suicide attempts.
Despite the tension in the auditorium, he spoke about his personal experiences, incorporated humor throughout his story, and shared some of the reasons he was able to overcome his past.
He said having a disciplined military life, practicing his religion and marrying a wonderful woman all helped him get to where he is today. He said he was able to avoid dwelling on his trauma and a dark mindset, by holding his thoughts “captive.”
“Never, ever give up,” he said. “Allowing negative thoughts like ‘you’re stupid and you’re worthless’ to run through your mind only pushes you toward a downward spiral, but if you take a small moment to pause and self-reflect, that has a huge impact. Capture those thoughts. Hold them captive, and ask yourself, ‘where is this coming from?’”
Pvt. Gorge Hernandez with 52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, agreed and said, “the battle starts in the head.”
“It doesn’t have to be from a deployment,” Hernandez added. “It can be all mental and happen right here (while at Fort Carson), but I learned that what (could) help (fight that) is being closer to my friends and loved ones and moving forward.”
Soldiers who are going through similar struggles or are experiencing challenging times can empathize with Marx’s story and see that they can overcome adversity as well.
“Marx provided Soldiers another perspective and (it) is a powerful testimony to the ability to prevail, no matter how difficult the experience,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Knoedler, chaplain, 4th Inf. Div.
Attendees were surprised to find they were not there to listen to a typical training brief, but a deep and personal life story with a lesson. All eyes were locked on Marx as he spoke. The crowd gasped as he recounted his traumatic childhood memories and cheered for his heartwarming and funny anecdotes. To several people, his story had struck a chord with their own experiences.
“He immediately grabbed my attention and was inspiring,” said Pfc. Lucero Gonzalez, with 52nd BEB, 2nd SBCT. “I’m 33 years old, and I just joined the Army last year. I didn’t end up like the people I grew up with, and I fought to be where I’m at now. I still go through tough situations, so it was nice to (hear his story) and relate to him.”
Staff Sgt. Monisa McKay, a religious affairs specialist with 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., spoke with tears welling in her eyes.
“His story was genuine, heartfelt and relatable,” McKay said. “I’ve been hurt before, and it takes a while, but I’m learning to forgive.”
Although Marx might have had every reason to be mad at the world and the people who inflicted harm on him, he forgave them.
“My favorite weapon is forgiveness,” Marx said. “(Forgiveness means) giving up your right to hurting someone who hurt you.”
Today, Marx lives with many accomplishments, including holding a seventh-degree black belt in karate, being the world’s fastest gun disarmer and becoming an author and filmmaker of several works. He runs a high-risk humanitarian program and travels the world with Scout, to provide trauma relief for thousands of people suffering from the aftereffects of terrorism and sex trafficking and from post-traumatic stress disorder. As an individual who has overcome the pain of their past, Marx uses his story as a catalyst to help others do the same.
Marx said there was only one thing he hoped Soldiers got from his presentation, “hope.”