GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – Waukesha native Chris Gromowski describes his childhood as ‘rebellious,’ but he had an outlet.

“Luckily I was blessed, and my wrestling coach was [well-connected] in the county, and he said, ‘Chris, I think you should join the military.’ So he kind of gave me that nudge, and that’s how I ended up joining the Marine Corps,” he recalled.

Tending to be the troublemaker, he found his outlet in wrestling, and then with the Marines in 2008.

“It was a very interesting experience to go from the comfort of home to unknown, just like that,” he said.

A skilled wrestler since the fifth grade, Gromowski got to put that passion to work in the military.

“I developed a really good athleticism, and so the Marine Corps saw that, and they utilized it. I was allowed to travel and do a lot of different schools,” he said.

“I went to mountain warfare school, jungle warfare school, survival school, I learned how to become a rock climber. So, all of those skills I built up over the course of my early Marine Corps career, allowed me to travel all over the world,” said Gromowski. 

Traveling throughout the Middle East on peace-keeping deployments, Gromowski stayed in the Marines for a decade, transforming from a rebellious kid, to a man with a different perspective on life.

“It goes to show you how powerful the human being is when it comes to overcoming adversity. Out of all of those experiences, it was nuts to just be like, ‘You know what? I have a heart and a life full of gratitude, life is good,'” Gromowski said.

Gromowski himself knows a bit about overcoming adversity.

“For years, the biggest challenge I had was believing if I got help [for depression or PTSD], it was a sign of weakness. But in turn, I realized that was actually a strength – to turn around and face some of the adversity I’d faced, some of the loss I’d seen,” he said. “It helped me overcome and think differently,  it opens the doors to many possibilities and new friendships and increases your social network and through that, you can heal wounds,” said Gromowski.

Someone who never thought he’d even attend college, Gromowski went on to get a dual degree from UWGB using the GI bill. 

He connected with local company Vyper Industrial, they took a chance on him, and he now works as director of nutrition and sales manager.

Growmowski feels things have come full circle, but he won’t stop reaching for more.

“Mindset, it’s not just like we work hard, play hard, it’s more of.. can I do more? Because when you want something, like a seed; Flourish. How far can it go? Can I get a full tree? It’s fun, it’s been a blast.” he said.