About four years ago, a friend, David Metzgar, invited me to a Christmas party. I didn't know anyone but found myself the center of attention when people learned I owned The Renova Center--housing premier wellness facilities in Norfolk, VA. The main topic of interest was, as usual, hyperbaric oxygen.
I talked about how hyperbaric oxygen chambers were very successful in repairing broken bones, improving traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress, healing scar tissue, and other specific and serious health issues. One couple was particularly interested: Helen and Bill Jenkins. Bill was a "forced retired" Virginia Beach police officer, because of work-related injuries.
I ended up spending the rest of the evening, listening to their experiences with injuries that Bill had sustained while being a great cop for many years. Bill loved being a policeman. He was one of those true-hero types who loved helping people and saving lives. In the process of helping others, he became irreparably harmed, partially disabled.
In his off time, Bill was a boat captain and loved to take people fishing--especially injured veterans. He often went to Portsmouth Veteran's Hospital and picked up several depressed and forgotten warriors fishing for the day--at no cost to them.
As I listened to Helen and Bill describe their sad journey, I couldn't help but notice the tears welling up in Helen's eyes and the hopelessness in Bill's. Bill was on several medications to control the shaking his body often did, to the point it was difficult for him to keep from toppling over, walk, or see or think straight.
I'll never forget his comment, "I love being a cop, but it's a bit of a problem when an individual carries a weapon and sees three of everything in front of him."
Bill had a relaxed sense of humor, was eloquent in communication, and continuously looked at his wife with adoring eyes. The look of love passed back and forth between the two of them caused me to fall in love with this couple.
I invited them to The Renova Center to check out hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Bill immediately began treatments and over time, got better. His shaking gave way to less shaking and more smiling. Helen was smiling a lot too. Lots of veterans benefitted from his healing through many successful fishing trips. Bill maintained a hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT) maintenance program over the years, and his doctor prescribed HBOT and lowered his medications. It was a win-win. Everyone was thrilled.
This morning I received a text message from Sarah Stoltman, the co-owner and angel of Hampton Roads Hyperbaric Oxygen. I've cried since that information came via the web: "Bill Jenkins drowned today. He jumped into the water to save a trapped sea turtle and never came back up. They pronounced him dead at the hospital."
Everyone who was touched by Bill's life is in shock. He was a good-cop, husband, father, friend, and a great man.
Of course, he would have tried to save a sea turtle's life. That's just how he rolled.
Rest In Peace Brave Warrior - We are less safe and less happy without you.