Philip “Logan” White
November 14, 1988 – September 26, 2017
Logan was born November 14, 1988, in Oklahoma City, OK. He had, in my opinion, a normal and stable childhood and got along well with his siblings (most of the time). As a boy, Logan enjoyed playing soccer and cheering for his favorite NFL team, “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys. He played club soccer growing up where he made up for his lack of size with his speed, agility, and above-average ball handling skills.
When he was around 12 years old, his Papa bought him his first dirt bike, and Logan’s love for motorcycles was born. Of course, I had to get my own bike so we could ride together. We spent many weekends at the lake riding trails with “Uncle” Wes (my lifelong friend and Army buddy). After his riding skills improved, he upgraded to an actual race bike and tried his hand at a few local motocross races. He loved the thrill of going fast, pushing his limits, and particularly enjoyed the jumps. Much to his mother’s chagrin. Like any mother, she was always concerned he would get hurt while riding.
Of course, he had his shares of tumbles, missed landings, and so forth. Anyone who has ever ridden trails or motocross knows “bumps and bruises” are all part and parcel. Fortunately, Logan never sustained any major injuries while riding his dirt bikes during this time. Up to this point, his worst “biking” injury came from riding his bicycle. We’re not sure how, but he managed to take a fall and dislocate his right shoulder.
I took him to a minor emergency facility where we would be referred to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital since they were not equipped to administer pain medication to a minor. Logan always had an extremely high pain tolerance and insisted on getting in the truck on his own. As he reached across with his left hand to close the door, he closed it into his injured shoulder. And re-set it! When it happened, he immediately said he could move his shoulder again and demonstrated his mobility. We went back inside, they did another physical exam and x-ray which confirmed he had, in fact, re-set his own shoulder.
If I had to describe Logan in a single word, it would be “heart.” Logan had a lot of heart. No matter what he was attempting, he proceeded with the “can do” attitude. A trait I’m sure served him well after he enlisted in the Army.
We moved from Oklahoma to Texas when Logan was 16 and a Junior in High School. A move that was not well received. One morning, Logan drove him and his sister, Ashton, to school. When school let out, Ashton was unable to locate Logan. He was not there nor was his car. We found out later that evening he had driven back to Oklahoma. He and his buddies were quite surprised when dad found them!
Being extremely intelligent, Logan quickly became bored with school. There was difficulty in getting consistent attendance from him. He eventually took advantage of the Student Opportunity Center (SOC) where he was able to utilize a self-paced approach to obtaining his high school diploma. He graduated from Frisco High School in 2007.
During this time, Logan was able to forge some strong and lasting friendships with a few young men who remained his friend until the end. Not just “party pals,” but true friends who were always there for him and encouraged him through some very rough times after he completed his enlistment. I will be forever grateful to them for consistently being there for him.
You’re in the Army Now
In May 2008, at 19 years old, Logan enlisted in the United States Army as a combat engineer. He said that getting to blow stuff up sounded like lots of fun! He attended One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, and was subsequently assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Division (Big Red One), Special Troops Battalion. Logan graduated OSUT in August 2008 and deployed in October 2008 for his first tour of duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. He deployed to Iraq again in 2010. During his two tours in Iraq, while performing duties as the Primary Gunner of route clearance patrols and convoy security, achieved the rank of Corporal (CPL), however, he finished his enlistment as Private First Class (PFC). But that is another story. During his three years, he completed the Combat Life Savers Course and earned the following awards and decorations: Combat Action Badge, Iraq Campaign Medal (with 3 campaign stars), Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd Award) and Sharpshooter- Rifle. He completed his enlistment in 2011 and returned to Frisco, TX. We were thankful he made it home given he survived over 17 bomb blasts between his two tours.
I’m a Combat Veteran; Now what?
After his military service, Logan went to Le Cordon Bleu where he received his culinary degree while working in his cousin's Taco Shop, Tejas Tacos, developing salsas and putting love into everything he made. In November 2015, Logan and his then fiancé, Alyse, moved to Florida so that Logan could pursue commercial diving and welding. He wanted to develop skills that would be useful anywhere so that he could pack up, get on his motorcycle, and go. Logan loved fast cars, particularly old Porsches and BMW M models, and anything on two wheels. The faster the better. He frequently hopped on his bike and rode north until there was nothing but fields around him and the road in front of him. Logan gave so much in life and would do anything for those around him. After Hurricane Harvey hit, he volunteered around the clock gathering donations in San Antonio that would be sent to Houston; and even started coaching a girl's youth soccer team. He gave in death too, becoming an organ donor and saving the lives of 3 people.
Logan married Alyse Haynes on October 29, 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a beautiful sunny day. And one of the happiest days of his life. He would often say, “I get to have forever sleepovers with my best friend!” We could not have asked for a better daughter-in-law and partner for our son. She is wise beyond her years and loved Logan with everything she had. And, at times, it took everything she had.
Behind the Curtain
Logan by nature was a very caring, loving person. He had the cutest Cheshire cat grin and the biggest smile that would light up a room. After Logan came home, we immediately saw the changes. He was not the same young man that enlisted. He was quick to get agitated, sometimes getting angry, and was extremely uncomfortable in large groups. Oh, he tried valiantly to put on the mask, put up a front and get through each day as if nothing were wrong. His short-term memory issues were extremely frustrating for him. He was constantly forgetting where he put his keys or his phone. I think he might have lost a phone about every three months or so.
We knew he had survived an IED attack in January 2009. It was a triple stack of 155mm howitzer rounds in a pickup truck. The bomber detonated directly in front of his MRAP destroying it and another MRAP parked nearby. We knew he had been diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD while on active duty.
What we later learned was that he had survived multiple bomb blasts and experienced a concussion and loss of consciousness with each one. It was during his intake at the Dallas VA Hospital I learned the definition of “multiple.” It was 17+. When asked by the nurse if he had been exposed to a bomb blast and if so, how many, he replied, “I stopped counting at 17.” She looked at him, “How many times did you lose consciousness?” Him, “17. Our job was to find the IEDs, but they usually found us before we could find them.”
January 2009, 1st of 17
After getting enrolled into the VA system, Logan went to numerous therapy sessions. Whereupon each time he was prescribed a litany of medications. There were pills to help him sleep, pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pain pills for the physical wounds to his neck and back sustained from the multiple blasts, and pills for his headaches.
He abhorred going to these sessions as he rarely saw the same doctor twice. His agitation grew and he would frequently say, “A pill didn’t break me, and a pill isn’t going to fix me.” He did have many “good” days. And there were many, many bad days.
After a motorcycle accident that required multiple shoulder surgeries, Logan discovered that opioids eased his hypervigilance and allowed him to sleep without experiencing night terrors. Fast forward a couple of years and his opioid addiction had grown into a very expensive heroin habit.
Do you want to know what hell on earth is like? Watching your child slowly destroy themselves; yep, that’s pretty much it. Doing everything you can do to help them. Knowing you’ve done everything within your power to help them yet still feeling guilty because, in the end, it wasn’t enough. Watching them detox and then when something triggers them the cycle starts again. Self-medicating, depression, self-loathing, more medicating. Remembering how you told him as a boy, “Don’t worry son; I’ll never let anything bad happen to you.” Those words will forever haunt me. Fathers, be very careful what you tell your children. You may one day have to eat those words.
Our society is failing people who suffer from drug addiction. Particularly our veterans. The VA system is antiquated and dealing with an epidemic of epic proportions. The protocol appears to be the following: heavily medicate and provide only cursory counseling. Neither of which addresses the root cause of the problems. We were told that in order to treat Logan’s PTSD they had to first treat his addiction. Unfortunately, a 30, or even 60-day rehab program is woefully inadequate.
In the last two to three years of his life, Logan had been to multiple treatment facilities. Private as well as VA. Nothing seemed to be working. And his self-medication became increasingly worse. It wasn’t until Alyse discovered Warriors Heart (www.warriorsheart.com) that Logan made any real progress in his rehabilitation.
Warriors Heart, in Bandera, TX, is a private treatment facility that specializes in treating military, veterans, and first responders. They provide dual treatment for drug addiction and PTSD/TBI in a non-clinical environment and Logan loved it there. It’s located on the former site of the 543-acre Purple Sage Ranch Resort and Conference Center.
Before and After (6 weeks at Warriors Heart)
Logan had been clean and sober for about six months and was residing in the Sober Living quarters at Warriors Heart. He was physically healthy, coaching a little league girls soccer team, doing CrossFit daily, and had begun working with a service dog. We will never know what triggered his relapse on September 25, 2016.
I only thought it was bad watching him slowly kill himself with heroin. Until I saw him on the ventilator in the emergency room. Fighting for every breath. His body jolted and jerked just to get a breath. Occasionally fighting against the ventilator.
We were told they estimated Logan’s brain had gone approximately 30-45 minutes without oxygen. “IF he survives, he will be in a vegetative state.” We’re trying to get the brain swelling down; however, you should prepare yourself for the worst the ER doctor said. I know he was trying to be kind yet set realistic expectations. There just simply isn’t any way to prepare yourself for the death of your son.
After a couple of tests to confirm, Logan was pronounced brain dead on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. It would take another year before the VA would officially declare Logan’s death “service-connected” as a result of the PTSD and TBI incurred during his tours in Iraq.
Hero in Life and Death
Logan was an organ donor, so we basically spent Mon-Thur that week at the hospital. He was the first successful donor in over 3 years at the hospital. So, they kind of made a big deal about it. They took him Thursday at 4pm to harvest the organs. That’s the last time I saw him. One person received his liver and two people each received one of his kidneys.
We had Logan’s memorial service on October 10, 2017. Warriors Heart brought several of the veterans that were in treatment with Logan to attend his service. They all put their Challenge Coin received upon completion of their first 30 days of rehab in Logan’s casket. The veteran's group 22kill (www.22kill.com), who had helped Logan get into treatment facilities multiple times, arranged for a bagpiper and had approximately 30 members of the American Infidel Veteran Motorcycle Club join the Patriot Guard as our escorts to the National Cemetery.
I’ve personally been part of the funeral detail for many veterans’ funerals. I’ve heard Taps played countless times, including at the National Cemetery in Normandy, France. Now I can barely make it through without breaking down.
Since Logan’s passing, we have begun a journey we never could have imagined. We have met many wonderful people and made many new friends. Friends in a “club” none of us asked to join. If not for his passing, we would have never met Terry and Elisabeth Burgess, whose son Bryan was KIA in Afghanistan, and founded the Gold Star Parents Retreat (www.goldstarparentsretreat.org). Or Amy Cotta, founder of Memories of Honor (www.memoriesofhonor.org). Both organizations regard any parent whose child lost their life as a result of their service, regardless of how, as a “Gold Star Parent.”
I’ve met other fathers through TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) who have lost their adult children as a result of their service. There’s an immediate bond between parents who fully understand the tragic loss of a child.
Unfortunately, and sadly, Logan’s story is not all that unique. There are thousands of our veterans, active duty soldiers, sailors, coast guard, airmen, and marines who are succumbing to the daily battle with PTSD and TBI. An average of 20 per day. The United States has now lost more service men and women to PTSD and TBI than have been killed in action.
If you want to honor our sons and daughters, speak their name, and appreciate their sacrifices. And ours.