“Life gets hard. You’re going to have your ups and your downs. When you’re stuck in your downs, you just have to keep working, you have to climb up that hill and keep pushing. It’s only going to feel much more satisfying knowing you got there. Try to keep positive, keep your head up and work towards making your life better. It will happen no matter if it takes a day, a week or a year it always get better,” said Van Etten.
Chris is a positive person by nature. It radiates off him and we could immediately sense it when speaking with him. His practical mentality is what helped the war veteran, now model, get through a very negative experience. In June 2012, Chris was on a routine patrol with his Marine infantry unit when an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise) erupted underneath him. The accident left him as a double amputee, losing his entire left left leg and his right leg from the knee down. While some people in this situation would turn toward a dark place, it only pushed Chris to aspire to be a better person; naturally his motto, “no excuses” pushed him to get to where he is today.
Not only is it his positive attitude that caught our attention, but the retired Marine has turned his traumatic injury into a budding modeling career, and from what we have seen so far, this guy has great potential. Being a model takes more then having the perfect body or sharp features, it also takes that positive mindset that Chris seems to be born and it is what really makes the picture
Talking with Chris I found out that he grew up around the world with his military family and that he is really a down-to-earth momma’s boy at heart. Read our interview on the next page with this inspiring figure and see how he is turning his experience into a modeling career that he hopes will influence others in similar situations like him. And hopefully help him catch his major break into modeling, and — crossing our fingers — become the next face of Baskit underwear!
Location now: San Diego
DOB: September 23, 1990
Astrological sign: Virgo
Relationship Status: Dating
Hair Color: Brown
Eye color: Green
Basically, being around it all the time, I’ve had this sense of duty towards my country. I wanted to at least do four years, whether I made it into an actual career or not. For most of my life I knew I wanted to be in the military. When I got older I decided I wanted to be a Marine instead of in the Air Force like my parents.
My parents were in the Air Force, and as much as I know their job was important, I just couldn’t see myself fixing airplanes or just being stuck on a base. I wanted to do something that when I go out I wanted it to be something that was, I guess for a lack of a better term, a little bit more hardcore. A job that you can’t get in the civilian world. I guess the only job that I really could come up with was infantry. And so making that decision, my next decision was is it the Army or the Marines, and I mean that wasn’t a question for long. Marines was the very first thing I wanted to do.
I was really interested in basically anything with two wheels. Dirt bikes, BMXing. That was something if I had an opportunity to pursue I probably would have tried to purse it. For a brief time in high school I was very interested in becoming a chef, so I was thinking about going to Culinary school. I use to cook all the time, I stopped doing it, I don’t know why, but I love cooking food and coming up with my own meals and creations.
Well, the biggest source of motivation I could honestly say was my mom. She had breast cancer when I was in high school and for a very long time I watched as her body basically broke itself down. She was stuck in bed for days if not weeks, and I watched her come out of it as a much stronger and resilient person. She’s always been a wonderful person, but I could definitely tell after cancer, her mentality on life changed. Now she’s even more amazing if that’s possible. Being injured, it really did take its toll on me mentally in the beginning. You could just quit and say “oh my life sucks,” but I wanted to make something better of it not only for myself, but for everyone else. I’m not the same person I was — I’m much better.
That didn’t really start happening until I got out. After I got injured I spent a year with physical therapy and learning how to walk and how to function. I ended up moving back to Illinois after physical therapy, and for some reason, right after I moved back I went into a really bad state of mind. I got really depressed, my insomnia came back. I went to the gym a couple of times because I thought it could clear my mind from all of this. I left there feeling better than I had in a long time. From then on it became my outlet, my way to escape. Eventually, I was able to work myself out of that state of mind and a lot of it is because of working out and being able to focus my mind on something else.
That actually came through this charity shoot I did with [Shauna] Kruse Images and Photography. They contacted her and asked if they wouldn’t mind getting a couple of shots of me in their underwear. As of right now it’s just the calendar, I just did a couple of shots for them when I was doing that shoot. So we’ll see what comes from it.
Yes, I got to a couple pairs of those, the pair I shot in and a few other pairs that were at the shoot.
What was it about Baskit underwear that stood out to you?
Yeah, I love the colors. They are very bright, bold and out there. They made me try something other my regular pairs of underwear at home.
Alex is a great guy. Me and him have actually hung out, we’ve worked out together on a couple of occasions. We’re friends, but in the beginning I found out about him whenever he went on Good Morning America. I was taken away. I heard about this amputee model and how he had gone through the loss of his brother and how he was fighting alcoholism and how he got out of it all. That did serve as a huge source of inspiration for me, especially in the beginning. When I started doing modeling, I started getting in contact with him and he started helping me out a lot. He still helps me out to this day. He is definitely a person I know I can go to if I need any help.
I can’t honestly say I have a favorite photographer. They all have their own style and they all exceed very well in the style they shoot in. Everybody that I have worked with has been great, so I can’t really pick a favorite. As for the ones I’m looking forward to, me and Golden have a shoot coming up in October and I’m very excited about that. Golden has made a pretty big name for himself, that’s something I’m looking forward to.
I want to eventually get certified as a personal trainer and I want to specialize in helping people with some sort of physical disability to work out safely. I know one of the biggest challenges for me in the beginning was trying to find work outs that I could do without hurting myself. As for the modeling thing, it’s something I very much like doing. I always tell people “you’re only so good looking for so long and I’m already as ugly as it is, so I have to take advantage of it while I can now, but I need a plan B.” I need a backup for when that isn’t so much of an option anymore. I don’t want to jinx myself and say I don’t think of it as a career, but as of right now it is something I’m trying to pursue.