INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — They were driving through the desert, doing off-road vehicle testing at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.
Eight or nine service men were in the vehicle when Ty Harrison-Adcock yelled out from the back seat, arrested by a gripping pain in his lower back.
“I was fine one moment and the next I was screaming in pain,” Ty said.
The 30-minute drive to the hospital was excruciating, as were the years that followed.
The pain that gripped Ty that day in Arizona still has a firm hold, and the pain has taken his life in a direction he never dreamed of.
For as long as he can remember, Ty planned to be in the military. He grew up, as he says, a “Navy brat,” and was sure the service would always be in his future. Both his father and mother were officers in the Navy and their only son joined the Army just out of high school.
He was 25 years old when his life took a different direction that day in Arizona in October of 2006.
“The pain was like a brick wall,” his mother, Paige Harrison Brown Adcock, said. “It stopped him for years — it immobilized him.”
Ty’s back pain persisted as he waited for results from doctors, who came back with a recommendation that he be medically discharged.
“My whole world was yanked out from under me,” Ty said.
His superiors recognized something he did not—that he wasn’t physically able to perform at the level he once could.
“I didn’t come to terms with leaving the military until 2009,” Ty said. “It took me a long time to adjust and figure out how I would move forward with my life.”
Today, Ty owns Pak Mail, a shipping and packing company in the Raley’s Shopping Center.
He and his family bought the business in early 2012. Ty already knows most of his customers by name, both seasonal and local.
“He has taken to it like a duck to water,” Paige said of her son. “He’s become very outgoing, knows everybody by name.”
Ty works six days per week at Pak Mail. He builds large boxes, sorts mail, and prepares packages to send all over the world.
The young man frequently attends physical therapy and gets epidurals a few times per year to help with the pain.
He says he enjoys his work at Pak Mail because it helps him forget.
“Pak Mail keeps me engaged,” Ty said. “There’s always new challenges, and being here is good for me because it keeps me moving and keeps me limber.”
Although the cause of the pain is still unclear, Ty says he has arthritis in his spine as well as degenerative disc disease and soft tissue damage. He thinks much of it comes from an injury that went ignored.
“I thought I’d be able to rest of for a little while and move on,” he said.
It was while he waited for the medical boards from the Army that Ty learned administrative skills that have helped him immensely at Pak Mail.
He says he has had to let go of the strict exercise regiment from his time in the service, but has held on to things like discipline, organization and punctuality.
“Things I learned in the military are applicable to everyday life, like being on time, which is big for any business,” Ty said. “And also staying until the job is finished. A nine-to-five business is similar.
“Of course I’m not seeing sunrises, anymore which is nice.”
Adapting to civilian life and running a business have presented Ty with many new challenges.
“The challenges are my favorite part — I enjoy trying to figure out how to make things work,” Ty said.
He is currently building crates to ship furniture for a customer.
“In the military there is the chain of commands,” he said. “More often than not I have to find the answer myself, pushing me to learn more and figure out more for myself.”
Apart from 24-hour mailbox access, Pak Mail also provides shipping and receiving from all carriers and a wide variety of packaging.
Ty and his employees offer to package for their customers, and they pride themselves on shorter lines and good customer service.
“Establishing relationships is really important so we can better fulfill their needs,” Ty said.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun; she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Things I learned in the military are applicable to everyday life, like being on time, which is big for any business.”
Owner, Pak Mail