If there is an easy path through life, Neil Gussman hasn’t come close to finding his! But he’s risen to face every challenge and embrace every new opportunity presented him and always comes out on top.

Gussman is a chemical engineer by trade who, in his mid-50s, rejoined the National Guard after 23 years and was soon sent to serve in Iraq. “It just seemed like the right thing to do,” says the 56-year-old Sergeant.

Gussman came out of that experience virtually unscathed compared to what he had to overcome a couple years back. He was a competitive masters athlete, racing his bicycle to what he hoped was another first place finish when he was involved in a pileup and nearly killed. His return won him the 2008 Masters Athlete Comeback of the Year Award. Now, his focus is shifting to his family where he’s raising two grandchildren and two adopted children.

See why he decided to serve (again) and how what he learned from — and taught — military members half his age.