(WTMJ) — MILWAUKEE — One Wisconsin veteran was clinically dead. Then, much to everyone’s surprise, he woke up. Now he and his family are spreading his message of resiliency this Veteran’s Day.

Sergeant First Class Jim Bittner has battled health problems for the last few years. The veteran was scheduled for a specialized surgery known as PTE, to clean plaque out of his arteries and lungs. But a series of scares threatened that surgery.

“I was having shortness of breath and I started coughing up blood,” said Bittner.