Jul.25.18

Proudly at Peace


How One ATA Instructor Overcame It All

For some, competing for a World Championship title is the highlight of the annual ATA Martial Arts World Expo in Little Rock. For Stephen Bethards of Lexington, Kentucky, there was much more on the line.

"With my stress and my anxiety and stuff like that, I don't really focus a whole lot on what's coming next," he said.

The cause of that stress is easy to deduce. He served in the Army for 10 years, partly stationed in Iraq. He sustained multiple injuries while overseas and endured more than the average person can take. 

"I was a gunner in Iraq, so basically I setup on top of the Humvee. We had a concussive blast that affected my nervous system completely. I guess it shut it down, is what I've been told. I woke up in the hospital in Iraq and I have had heart problems ever since."

Bethards said he underwent ablation heart surgery, yet still has multiple attacks each week.

"I could be sitting here just completely relaxed and calm, and my heart rate will shoot up to 150, 170 beats a minute."  Many of his health complications stem from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

"To see all the destruction first hand that happens over there, it's just tough to deal with."

As he struggled to relearn how to control his emotions, he secluded himself for several years.  But then he found a new home. 

Taekwondo entered his life at a time when he needed it the most. On his 30th birthday, a friend gave him a gift certificate to try martial arts. 

"Immediately, I just loved it," he said. "The structure of it, the discipline reminded me a lot of the military."

In seven short years, Bethards has won three World Championship titles. He's also become a certified instructor.

"It's kind of like being reborn a little bit," he said. "It gave me a sense of purpose again.

Now, Bethards serves as a chief instructor and

"I'm 100 percent."

Not only is this veteran strong.  He’s ATA Strong. 

 


Author: Jenny Wolff 

 

Back to Newsroom

Better Together

WE18 Results

Join the Journey

RESPECT

Proudly at Peace

A Worldly Experience

9 Hot and Healthy Summertime Habits

ATA Official Facebook Frames

History is Made by Four Songahm Legends

Presiding Grand Master Nomination Announcement

Break Like A Master

Laughter

Grand Master In Ho Lee Passes the Torch for the Future

Road Ready

Communication

Mind Body Spirit

Tournaments 101

Ready for Worlds!

All in the Mind

ATA Leadership and Life Skills Excellence

Packing a Punch

You Better Believe It!

How To: Improve Your Core Strength

Got Calcium?

The 2018 Spring Nationals Results Are In!

Ready for Routine

Carbs: The Good, The Bad, The Complex

How To: Master Your Test

Dynamite Discipline

Don't Forget!

How To: Crank Up Your Cardio

Snow Day

ATA Students Know: There’s Always More to Learn

The Masters' Council Presents: ATA Unity Workout

Spring Nationals Hotel Stay Giveaway!

How To: Create A Team Sparring Success Story

Urgent Tournament Bulletin: The ATA Tournament Standings have been updated!

9 Ways to Develop Self Control

How To: Master The Sword

As Natural as Breathing

Results are in!

Thank you, Veterans!

Rev Up Your Reading

How To: Get Your Kicks

Self-Esteem: The Leadership Life Skill that Starts Within You

Check out Marvel's Inhumans, starring one of ATA's own...

2017 Worlds Mid-Term & Rank Testing Results

The 2017 Spring Nationals Mid-Term & Rank Testing Results Are In!

One of ATA's very own is on the big screen!

"Utah Boy with Autism Wins World Title in Taekwondo: 'I Cannot Wait to See What the Future Holds for Him,' Says Mom" - People

"ATA Taekwondo championships return to Little Rock" - THV11

"ATA International To Locate Headquarters In Little Rock, Arkansas" - Area Development

"H.U. Lee International Gate and Garden" - Atlas Obsurca

News Release: ATA International breaks ground for new World Headquarters

Back To Top