After serving nine years in the United States Marine Corps, including a deployment to the Gulf War in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Thomas Harris was honorably discharged for non-combat related medical reasons. He would go on to become a successful business owner, crisis chaplain, and conference speaker for many years, until the unexpected happened.
Life often doesn’t go as planned. That was certainly the case on October 12, 2011, a day that would change Thomas’ life. While being treated for a recurring injury from his Marine Corps service, a routine medical procedure left Thomas with permanent nerve damage, debilitating pain, and partial paralysis.
As a result, the use of a wheelchair was then required. For Thomas and his family, their world turned upside down. Following the injury, Thomas would endure four back surgeries, three of which were for a spinal cord stimulator to help manage the pain.
Once a Marine, Always a Marine. Thomas’ military training and experience have always remained a part of him. A mantra found throughout the Marine ranks, ”Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”, symbolizes the flexibility, resourcefulness and quick decision-making ability required for success. Thomas excels by carrying out this mantra and applying the Marines’ core values of honor, courage and commitment.
Thomas graduated from Liberty University in the fall of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity (MDiv) with a concentration in Community Chaplaincy at the Liberty University Rawlings School of Divinity. As a professional chaplain, Thomas desires to encourage those struggling with life’s unexpected hardships.
Thomas is the MANA Military LifeGroup leader at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he resides with his wife, Heather, and son, Anthony. He also is the father of three grown children, two daughters and a son, of Irmo, SC, along with seven grandchildren.
Although he struggles with pain on a daily basis, he perseveres with the mindset:
Don't Let Your Difficulties Defeat Your Possibilities!