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Operation Enduring Warrior: A Veteran’s Story of Redemption (ep. 200)

Jonathan Lopez

John O’Leary welcomes Army veteran Jonathan Lopez onto the Live Inspired Podcast for a raw + emotional conversation about embracing unexpected challenges in life.

There are many adversities we face in life. Some of outward-facing while many are scars we carry on the insides of our hearts. Today’s guest can speak to both.

Jonathan Lopez is an Army Infantry veteran + member of Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW). OEW is a veteran-founded non‐profit whose mission is to honor, empower, and motivate our nation’s wounded military and law enforcement veterans through physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation.

Jonathan joins us for a raw, emotional and honest conversation about serving our country, learning how to accept unexpected circumstances + challenges in life and inspiring others to do the same.

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  • According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, more than 16 United States veterans die by suicide every day.
  • At 17 years old, Jonathan joined the Army seeking brotherhood + community, something that was lacking in his life.
  • During Special Forces Training, Jonathan realized the community he always sought was already in the barracks + quit.
  • Days later, Jonathan was involved with a head-on motorcycle accident that resulted in 17 fractures in his left leg, broke every rib on his left side + the amputation of his left arm.
  • Finding peace: “Not too long ago, I let go. It was one of the most liberating things.”
  • Jonathan’s focus + determination on rehabilitating his leg helped him cope with the loss of his arm.
  • Unleashing a monster: While rehabilitating his leg, Jonathan became addicted to opioids, which eventually led to a suicide attempt.
  • “Figuring out how to do things with one hand is not that complicated. Mental rehabilitation is hard.”
  • Redemption: During induction to Operation Enduring Warrior’s Masked Athlete Team, Jonathan’s mentor Jeff Farmer presented an opportunity for redemption.
  • “Face your obstacles, smile + get it over with.”
  • Jonathan attempted suicide not wanting his children to grow up with a “deadbeat father”. Today, he’s choosing to live because of his kids.
  • Learn more about Operation Enduring Warrior here.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Other Live Inspired Podcast guests have shared about suicide prevention + awareness.

  • Kevin Hines speaks of overcoming his “brain pain” + thriving in spite of mental illness on ep. 164.
  • Dese’Rae Stage speaks about sharing stories of other suicide attempt survivors on ep. 156.
  • Dennis Gillan discusses the loss of two brothers to suicide on ep. 46.

(Thank you to Live Inspired community member Martina for sharing her special relationship Jonathan, his connection her late son Thomas + the work OEW is doing in our communities. Share your guest recommendations with us at podcast@johnolearyinspires.com)


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Raising Men: Lessons Navy SEALs Learned from Their Training and Taught to Their Sons by Dina Santorelli and Eric Davis.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? I was never afraid of the unknown.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? Nothing. Part of my evolution in life has to become a minimalist, be purer and not be attached to anything.

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? My grandmother.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? My grandmother taught me to plant a tree, write a book and have children. My friend Scott encourages me to leave my footprints to guide others.

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Nothing. It would change where I am today.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Die first, then quit.


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