Frankie was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is the youngest of 10 siblings. Frankie signed up with the Army in 2001 as a member of the Puerto Rico National Guard and was assigned to the 92nd Manoeuver Enhancement Brigade. During his deployment to Iraq, Frankie was struck by an IED, and spent the following 10 years suffering with PTSD and a Traumatic Brain Injury. In 2008 Frankie hit rock bottom and attempted to take his own life, and was incubated for 30 hours. Realising that he needed to turn his life around, Frankie began volunteering for veteran organisations, and found therapy through music and art. An avid guitar player and artist, Frankie has started his own non profit in Puerto Rico, the Post Traumatic Art Foundation – offering therapy through art to other veterans in the community and working with the Pan Americano Hospital’s Mental Health Department. Frankie is also actively involved with community volunteering programmes with The Mission Continues as a Platoon Leader and works on projects with The Wounded Warrior Project, aiming to harness the veteran community in Puerto Rico which he feels is largely forgotten. Frankie has worked on relief efforts with Team Rubicon and WWP in the aftermath of Hurricane Imra which devastated the island.
There are a limited number of veterans in Puerto Rico or support systems for them, and taking part in this expedition means a huge amount to me as I feel that I can represent both them and future generations of veterans, bringing attention to their needs and struggles.
It will be a tough challenge, but so is dealing with the ‘invisible wounds’ – those sustained in and as a result of war. Statistics say that in the US alone we lose 22 Veterans a day just to suicide.
Walking every step of the way with my US and UK allied wounded team mates will be a unique experience and I am honoured to be taking part to represent so many thousands of other veterans who need the support of organisations such as Walking With The Wounded, The Bob Woodruff Foundation and The Wounded Warior Project.