November 14, 2018

Local Marine Sergeant Major participates in New York City Veterans Day Parade.

John Kob

John Kob of Mountain City waves at the crowd during the Veterans Day parade in New York City.
Submitted photo

By Tamas Mondovics & Operation Mend

Cities around the nation held Veterans Day parades on November 11 to honor U.S. military veterans. However, the biggest parade of all was once again held in New York City, where about 30,000 participants, cheered on by hundreds of thousands of spectators, marched along a 1.2-mile route up Fifth Avenue. United States Marine Sergeant Major (retired) John Kob of Mountain City, TN was among those veter

ans walking in the iconic New York City Veterans Day Parade.  Kob joined a contingent from UCLA Health Operation Mend, a Los Angeles-based program that provides specialty health care services to service members or veterans injured in the line of duty (combat or training) post 9-11. Kob himself has been a patient with Operation Mend.

With a total of 22 years of serving as a U.S. Marine, Kob said, “The military is part of my DNA.”

Around 2005, he started experiencing back injuries due to the weight of carrying heavy combat loads and the physical aspects of his missions.  He never took to the time heal and the pain kept building.  In 2014, Kob started a new job as a recovery care coordinator for wounded warriors, when he began to realize that he was also suffering from the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. He was distancing himself from people, isolating himself in what he called his “comfortable cave” and becoming hyper-vigilant about things like locking doors and closing the window blinds.

In 2017, Kob went through Operation Mend’s six-week outpatient intensive treatment program, which helps veterans learn how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, also known as the invisible wounds of war. He said the program helped him immensely.

“I left the Operation Mend program in a much better place mentally and spiritually. You really do feel better
when you come out of it,” said Kob. “It’s not easy telling  others your problems but  when you trust the doctors and have faith in them, they can help.”

Kob was looking forward to reuniting with the Operation Mend group in New York City during the parade.

“The New York Parade is iconic and millions of people see it,” said Kob. “There is a lot of support for the veterans walking in the parade and that reinforces what we did for our country.”

This was the 8th year that UCLA Operation Mend patients, family members, doctors, staff and supporters participated in the parade.

“It’s truly an honor for  us to walk in the New  York City Veterans Day parade with our patients and their families who sacrificed so much for our  country,” said Troy Simon, executive director, Operation Mend, UCLA Health
Military and Veteran Health Programs.

The New York City Veterans Day Parade, produced by the United War Veterans Council, is the largest event of its kind in the nation. Its purpose is to honor the service of veterans and to salute currently serving military. This year’s Parade commemorated the centennial of the end of World War I (1918 to 2018).

Founded in 2007, UCLA Operation Mend provides  advanced surgical and medical treatment, as well as comprehensive psychological-health support for post- 9/11-era service members, veterans and their families. The program also provides social support as well as advanced diagnostics, and intensive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. All medical care, travel and accommodations at UCLA are provided at no cost to participants. To learn more or to donate, please visit www.uclahealth.org/operationmend.