Governor Mills Congratulates Aides-de-Camp Gretchen Evans on Receiving Pat Tillman Award for Service at 2022 ESPYs
Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement congratulating author, athlete, and retired Army Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans of Brunswick, who also serves as one of the Governor’s Aides-de-camp, on being presented with the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the 2022 ESPYs last night:
“Command Sergeant Major Evans is an inspiration to me, as she is to so many people across Maine and America,” said Governor Mills. “Her courageous leadership continues to lift people up and give hope to those who may not have had it before. I am so proud to congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition, and I thank her for all she’s done for our veteran community. We are so fortunate to have her here in Maine.”
Last year, Governor Mills appointed Evans to serve as an Aides-de-camp, which is an advisory council of military veterans who advise the Governor on policies impacting Maine veterans.
Evans is a highly decorated veteran. After joining the Army in 1979 to help pay for her education, Evans quickly realized, as she says, military life was her calling. During her 27 years of service, she worked her way up to Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commissioned officer rank in the military. In 2006, she was deployed in Afghanistan when she was severely injured by a rocket blast, landing her in an Army hospital in Germany. When she awoke, Evans learned that she had suffered total hearing loss and a traumatic brain injury, which would end her military career. In the months to come, suffering from severe depression and PTSD, Evans struggled to find her footing, but then found a path forward through mentoring and competition.
After suffering her life-altering injury, Evans founded Team UNBROKEN, an adaptive racing team of mostly veterans who have experienced life-altering injuries, illness, or traumas to compete in World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji. The non-stop, multi-day expedition competition sees teams traverse mountains, jungles and seas. The team’s creation grew out of Evans’ involvement with a number of veteran advocacy groups where she mentored and coached fellow veterans with stories that echo her own extraordinary path.
Evans has since become a nationally known motivational speaker and been inducted into the U.S. Army Women’s Hall of Fame and U.S. Veteran Hall of Fame – all on top of a military career that saw her win numerous medals and awards from the Bronze Star to a Presidential Unit Citation Medal, several Global War on Terrorism ribbons, and six Meritorious Service Medals.
The Pat Tillman Award for Service was established in 2014 to honor Tillman’s life and legacy. The award is given to an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger. The ESPYS help to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS back in 1993.