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Army (Ret.) Master Sgt. Joe Bouchard Helps Others to Fight the Good Fight

  • Bruce
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(Ret) Master Sgt. Joe "Chappy" Bouchard...

In Pooler, Georgia, Point 27 volunteer US Army (Ret.) Master Sgt. Joe “Chappy” Bouchard helps others rise up and fight the good fight, using martial arts and scripture-inscribed dog tags from Point 27.

In a recent telephone interview, Bouchard said it was at Fort Stewart that he met US Army (Ret.) Col. David Dodd and learned about Point 27.

“He [David] had come down to meet with the Command chaplain of the Third Infantry Division. I got a chance to talk with him and he filled me in on what Point 27 does.”

At Fort Stewart, then, Bouchard was serving as Master Religious Affairs NCOIC.

“I liked the fact he was finding a way to reach soldiers and first responders with The Word,” Bouchard remembers. “Any time we can get individuals to seek God’s Word at any given time is a good thing. With [Army] Rangers, that’s extremely important.” As a former Army Ranger himself, Bouchard knows.

“For me–it was an eye-opening experience to discover—when I couldn’t carry the burdens, and when I can’t deal with things by myself—I can give all that to Christ. That’s a large impact in life for me and others. For first responders and soldiers, that’s a critical thing.”

Bouchard joined the Army in 2000. He served in the elite First Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment (one of only three Ranger Battallions in the US Army) deploying to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Inherent Resolve (International military intervention against ISIL).

“I served as everything from an anti-tank gunner to Squad Leader and explosive regimental master breacher for the Rangers,” he recalls.

In most every capacity, his service called him to act fearlessly in extremely dangerous situations.

Bouchard also held key development positions serving at the United States Military Academy, West Point, United States Army Central, First Army and the Third Infantry Division.

It was as a Ranger, he was injured in a parachute jump—an injury which would redirect his life and test his faith in himself, in God and in everything. Now he teaches what he learned from that experience.

Bouchard remembers, “Me and another guy came out and leap frogged all the way down. I hit the tarmac.” He suffered a fracture to his vertebrae and spine, and a fracture to his pelvis. “They were not clean breaks, just painful,” he recalls. He would serve four more years with the Rangers.

“In 2012, I got medical boarded. I changed my MOS (military occupational skill) from infantryman to chaplain assistant, which the military calls a religious affairs specialist,” Bouchard said.

“After the injury, the most difficult thing was going from where I felt I was called, then having to transition to the chaplain’s branch, which was night and day, 180-degree difference from the Rangers,” he said. “But the biggest blessing out of all of it was that I was able to form life-long friendships with some of the chaplains I served with. They have helped me in a number of capacities.”

Bouchard served at West Point as a chaplain assistant, then with the US Army Central throughout the Middle East, then a training unit back in the states, and, after 21 years of military service, he retired at Fort Stewart with the Third Infantry Division.

After his military retirement, he helped teach a special operatives combative program (SOCP), an ARC Assault Readiness Course and Krav Maga to members of the military even as he taught martial arts in a civilian studio. {Krav Maga is a self-defense system developed by the Israel Defense Forces for training military personnel in hand-to-hand combat.}

Today, he is chief force instructor for the American Krav Maga Federation and general manager and chief Instructor of Krav Maga for Pooler Karate and Krav Maga in Pooler, Georgia.

He holds a 2nd Degree (Dan) Black Belt in Krav Maga under the American Krav Maga Federation, Purple Belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Sergio Machado, and an Blue Belt in American Tang Soo Do under the American Tang Soo Do Alliance. Bouchard holds several specialty instructor certifications for the Special Operations Combatives Program, Assault Readiness Course, Ranger Master Breacher course, NSA Advanced Structural Breacher course; and the Sig Sauer Master Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun Instructor courses.

At the studio, Bouchard says he and his staff work with a lot of military veterans and others who suffer PTS, many amputees and multiple amputees. “We try to get them back on track, motivating them and encouraging them to find purpose beyond the military or beyond their injuries, and beyond their physical and emotional scars.

For the Bouchards, martial arts have become a family pursuit. Bouchard’s wife Kelley, a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Sergio Machado, runs the Brazilian Jujitsu program at the same facility as her husband. The Bouchards’ two sons and a daughter all train at the Pooler studio where their parents teach.

“We teach from two-year-olds to 69-year-olds,” said Bouchard.

The studio has over 1,000 students in the program including 100 special needs children and disabled veterans. The studio works with a nonprofit Special Kicks for special needs students in martial arts—for which Bouchard serves as a board member.

“We teach those with autism to microcephaly, from the super medically fragile to the very able bodied,” Bouchard said. “Double and triple amputees go through our program, and we have them walking again. For those with special needs, we teach them skill sets critical in life, basic balance and motor function, and values based on self-control and the indomitable spirit. We teach them to be respectful of others.

“When they leave, we have taught them to be aware of what they feel they are called for, and we teach them how to keep the spirit that is shaping their lives.”

According to Bouchard, “Point 27 has been a huge resource providing 1,200 dog tags for us to hand out to local law enforcement and another 1,200 for local firefighters. A local chapter of the 200 club (with a mission to care for those who care for us) utilizes the studio as a starting point for their races and special events for which we provide dog tags.” Bouchard said.

Bouchard has learned that callings don’t have to die following injuries, and that God has a way of redirecting. Through martial arts and Point 27, he’s living that out and teaching others those critical lessons.

Author: Bruce