Army Veteran Carolyn Furdek


Locked In by Carolyn Furdek


Carolyn Furdek is no stranger to challenges in life, demanding environments, and austere and dangerous conditions.  She is a former NCAA Division 1 swimmer, West Point graduate, 4-time Ironman athlete, accomplished leader and seasoned combat veteran.

When her 3rd and final combat tour came to an abrupt end in the deserts of Afghanistan in 2005, little did she, her comrades, nor her family realize the struggles that would face her for years after coming home.

Even when the doors of psych wards have been closed and locked behind her, and a not well-known diagnosis haunted her for over a decade, Carolyn has always chosen to tackle each seemingly hopeless and unwanted situation with a Never Give Up attitude.

Now in addition to practicing as a Doctor of Physical Therapy who dedicates her career to helping her patients take their first steps on their road to recovery, Carolyn travels across the country, sharing her message of resilience and hope.  She further challenges audiences to shed age old views of those that struggle with invisible wounds.   In doing so she seeks to change the landscape of mental health and the way we as a society think and behave towards those that struggle.

Audience members walk away inspired, refreshed, and ready to tackle their own challenges in life both big and small and share in Carolyn’s mission to break the stigma associated with mental health.

Whether they walk away ready to assume their own role as a self-advocate, a more informed provider, or just a better friend, Carolyn inspires her listeners to share their own story in order to help others.

With each new audience, Carolyn continues to maintain her mantra that if it helps just one, it will have been worth it.



Military and Military-Support Associations

Veteran Organizations

Law Enforcement

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Behavioral Healthcare

Organized Athletics

University / College / High School

Nonprofit Organizations


Locked-In: A Soldier & Civilian's Struggle with Invisible Wounds

Locked In by Carolyn Furdek

The story takes the reader from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, through the military and civilian psychiatric systems, and finally to the fight that remains on the home front.   

“Locked-In: A Soldier & Civilian’s Struggle with Invisible Wounds” is a  memoir that appeals to a broad audience to include: civilians, veterans, educators, healthcare providers and families alike in hopes to enlighten and encourage those suffering and those treating someone with invisible wounds.

Carolyn’s journey follows her lingering battle over the course of a decade that leaves the medical community and her family struggling for answers, an accurate diagnosis and treatment that will alleviate her symptoms.  Her chance encounter with a doctor in her home town 11 years after she returns home from the desert leads to long sought after answers and a successful treatment plan that has finally released her from the mental health struggles that held her back for so many years.

Carolyn and her providers now hope to share her story with others and bring her diagnosis to the forefront of the psychiatric community so others may benefit. 

Carolyn’s resilience and internal drive are evident throughout the story. The reader will easily follow and embrace her narrative and find her honesty and raw emotions capturing yet inspirational. 

“If this story helps just one it will have been worth it.”


Carolyn Furdek U.S. Army veteran and author of Locked In, is a brave and passionate storyteller of what is like to be a veteran coming home from combat and not "fitting in" the right medical diagnosis. She has a very humble, authentic way of engaging the audience with her story of exemplar service history, through her transition of medical retirement, and returning home as a combat veteran to current day life as warrior woman advocating for so many of us who cannot yet advocate for ourselves. Carolyn speaks from her heart, from her experience, and from a place of expertise that gives her a voice a very unique place to further our understanding of the complexity of the internal wounds that veterans come home with that too often go untreated and/or misdiagnosed. Carolyn brings a unique blend of education to any community she speaks to - rather it be a group of physicians or a veteran women's reading group.
Lindsay Gargotto, USAF Veteran
Founder & Executive Director, Athena's Sisters
Dr Furdek came and spoke to my class about her experiences while she was deployed and her struggle with rejoining society. Her depiction of what happened to her once she "froze" was a chilling tale of how we treat people with mental health issues and the disparities in quality of care. Her story about how she came to that moment was especially griping because she was a soldier, and soldiers are not supposed to be weak or show it. I felt like the fact that she was brave enough to share her story, in an attempt to help other veterans/soldiers was very brave and showed the courage and resolve that made her a successful leader of men when she was serving.

Her straightforward and honest delivery allows the audience to really step into her shoes and experience the events that brought her to the place she is at today. She is a shining example of the perseverance it requires to face and overcome invisible wounds of war. Although she will admit herself that the battle is not won, I drew upon her great courage and underlying strength to identify to the problem, address it directly and continue the mission. She has changed my view of mental health and the way that it is spoken of and referred to. Truly a powerful story told by a strong woman focused on ensuring no one endures what she has had to endure.”
Lafeyette Brown, III
Veterans Treatment Court Case Manager, Hardin County Treatement Court, Elizabethtown, KY
Dr. Furdek’s presentation on perseverance in the face of societal challenges, cultural rigidity, and an unknown medical condition is at times poignant and humorous, while riveting throughout. To have survived, persisted and achieved in the face of unknown adversity is a triumph of spirit and endurance. Her testimony of grit is an inspiration to others
Mark R. Wiegand
PT, PhD, Vice Provost, College of Health Professions, Bellarmine University
At 52 with 28 years at VA. It is not often (I’m) so inspired by a very different perspective. I'll be a better director because of your bravery.
Martin Traxler
Medical Center Director of the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, Recovery Celebration
I fell in love with your story and more so with your persistence to NEVER GIVE UP.
Ilya Okhotnikov
Operation Immersion


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