About Ivan

Major Ivan Castro

Major (Retired) Ivan Castro’s never quit attitude allowed him to serve 28 years in the US Army, as an Army Ranger, and an elite member of the Army’s Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets.  Ivan enlisted as a young Private and advanced in leadership to become an Officer, obtaining the rank of Major before he retired.  His career included deployments around the world to places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, South and Central America, to name a few.

Although this would be an accomplished career for most, what is remarkable, is not Ivan’s twice awarded Purple Heart, numerous military awards, and credentials, but his so called recreational activities.  In the past fourteen years, Ivan has run over 60 marathons, skid over 200 miles in extreme weather conditions to reach the South Pole with Prince Harry, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, cycled across the United States, trekked over 500 miles of the El Camino de Santiago, ran with the Bulls in Spain, completed a desert race: Marathon des Sables, and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  Even finding time to write a book with New York Times Bestselling Author Jim DeFelice, titled “Fighting Blind”.

In 2006, Ivan’s military aspirations and way of life changed in unimaginable ways.  While serving as a First Lieutenant with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was injured in a mortar attack on a rooftop in Youssifiyah, Iraq.  The mortars inflicted many injuries, with the most serious resulting in permanent blindness.  But worst of all, the mortars took the lives of two men in his unit.

Ivan battled back from his injuries to continue to serve as an active duty soldier, becoming the only blind soldier to serve in Special Forces until his retirement.  His physical recovery took over a year, however that would pale in comparison to the emotional battle with darkness that comes daily and has been over a decade in the making.  

Ivan’s frankly told account of his struggle through adversity is a story of hope and perseverance.  His message of resiliency reminds us that life is a choice of how we respond to adversity and all we need is the courage to move forward through the darkness after any setback or failure.

Ivan is the honored recipient of the Ross Perot Award for Military Philanthropic Leadership.  Ivan continues to work and raise awareness for people with disabilities as well as Veteran issues.  Ivan, along with Prince Harry and other US and UK service member, led a panel discussion on Veterans mental health at Kings College.   He is a featured keynote speaker for many notable charitable organizations, to include:  The Royal Foundation, The American Friends of the Royal Foundation, Special Forces Charitable Trust, Walking with the Wounded, and The Fisher House Foundation.