Veterans Center chair is military Renaissance man


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Don Pearsall stands in the front of a Huey helicopter display and mural at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center.

R. Norman Moody

The recently elected chair of the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Museum has walked the walk when it comes to affairs military, and that is just the beginning of Don Pearsall’s resume.

Pearsall has sacrificed his nearest and dearest, his son, in the service of his country. Pearsall’s son, David, was a casualty of Desert Storm.

A Vietnam veteran, Pearsall completed two tours of duty there, one with the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st. Cavalry Division, and one with the 1st Aviation Brigade, 155 Assault Helicopter Company.

“I was a UH1 Huey door gunner,” said Pearsall.

In 1968, while supporting Army infantry during the Tet Offensive, Pearsall was shot down over the Central Highlands. He survived, and was shot down again, this time in 1969 while taking off after an insertion mission in Quyn Nhon.

“I spent time at the 45th Surgical Hospital at Tay Ninh and at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii,” said Pearsall, who was later taken to Kimborough Army Medical Center in Maryland to recuperate.

After leaving the military, Pearsall embarked on multiple careers.

“I started my post-Army working career as a lineman for New York telephone, worked my way up to cable splicer and then into management a few years later,” he said.

He also completed training as an emergency medical technician and served as a captain/assistant chief for the Nesconset Fire Department in Long Island, New York.

There’s more, too, for Pearsall is a certified professional life coach and a certified peer support specialist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He co-owns “Connections to a New Life,” an agency recognized worldwide as a resource for veteran PTSD issues, regardless of country.

“PTSD does not discriminate or recognize borders,” he said.

The Canaveral Groves resident teaches substance abuse classes and a PTSD self-help program called “Been There, Done That,” as well as bereavement classes for Aging Matters in Brevard.

The busy Pearsall is author of three books, including “Back from the Front,” a self-help book focusing on PTSD from a serviceman’s perspective.

Pearsall just finished a four-year stint as the District 8 commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, responsible for the 3,385 members of the 14 VFW posts in Brevard and Osceola counties.

Even with such a full plate, Pearsall still finds time to be part of the four-man team that is restoring that military icon of the Vietnam War, a UH-1 Huey helicopter, to air-worthy status for the Warbird Museum in Titusville.