Read the stories of our featured Heroes.
My name is Angela, I entered the United States Army Reserve as a Medical Laboratory Specialist and later went to school for specialized training in Blood Bank Operations. I spent the majority of my career in the medical field and conducted missions during deployment in support of three Operations for The Global War on Terrorism.
I also served on Active Duty as an Officer Accessions Career Counselor with a Recruiting area of responsibility covering Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia and initially including Pennsylvania and Delaware.
During my recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center I came in contact with Pauline from Operation Second Chance (OSC) by accident via email thru a mutual acquaintance, but it's been said "everything happens for a reason". I was immediately drawn to the heartfelt personal touch, compassion and sincere attitude for helping Service Members move on, be it with financial assistance or just a day away from the hospital doing something fun. I can honestly say an OSC sponsored event was the first to "get me out of the house", and I thank you.
I am also indebted to the gracious hospitality Cindy and OSC has shown me and my family at each and every event attended. Ironically, I was also in admiration of the organizations name and its mission because of the motto my mother uses and owns as her professional philosophy which is "Everyone deserves a second chance" and I truly believe everyone deserves a second chance thru recovery from an illness or injury and with that we can move on. I truly believe in Operation Second Chance.
My ultimate goal is to in some way help other wounded, injured and/or ill Service Members and their caregivers during recovery at any phase one day at a time with each day becoming a little easier. Additionally, I am currently writing a novel and a book of poetry in hopes it will be an inspiration and a token of thanks to all who have served, those who continue to serve and the family & friends who serve alongside us.
Many thanks to my entire family and my true friends for all of your never-ending support; I love you guys!
We were riding on top of an AAV (Amphibious Assault Vehicle) going into Fallujah for an assault. An IED went off 50 feet to my front, which was the left side of the AAV. When the IED blew up, I caught shrapnel in my right arm and right leg. I lost feeling immediately in my arm and I could feel blood running down my leg. I also took shrapnel to my left arm and face. I rolled into the AAV, bleeding badly and had to wait until we could get outside and get medical help.
The blast was so severe; it twisted the track to the point where the ramp would not go down. We were able to get out through the single door in the back of the AAV. One of the Marines had to help me get out of the back door.
Two corpsmen tied tourniquets around my arm and leg while other corpsmen went to work on the other injured Marines. All the while the rest of the platoon were returning fire.
A military ambulance eventually arrived and transported us to a nearby hospital. Once they realized my injuries were more severe, I was again transported to another medical station. I was put on the table, put to sleep and I woke up 12 days later to find out my right leg and right arm had been amputated. I also suffered nerve damage in my left leg from the knee down. I've undergone 10-plus surgeries.
On November 9, 2004 I was transported to Landsthul Army Medical Center in Germany, and on November 12 to the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. I was moved to WRNMMC on December 20, where I am currently continuing my recovery. I expect to be at WRNMMC for a minimum of six more months.
I received my Purple Heart from Assistant Commandant General William Nyland of the United States Marine Corps on November 23, 2004.
I was injured on Dec. 3, 2004 by an IED. My year deployment was almost finished when my convoy got hit. I woke up almost 3 weeks later at Walter Reed. I broke my femur right above the right knee. I have severe nerve damage and have bilateral drop-foot. I also had shrapnel go in my back and blow out my large intestine. I'm missing chunks of muscle all over my legs from the IED. I was at Walter Reed for two years and underwent almost 40 surgeries. I was finally retired and went back to Utah.
As soon as I got to Utah I registered for school at the University of Utah. I will graduate on May 4th 2012 with a communications degree.
About 2 1/2 years ago I moved into a home that was built for me by Homes For Our Troops. I wake up everyday very humbled because of every opportunity that I've received since being injured. I don't want this type of thing to stop so I do a lot of volunteering in order to give back. I also hold my own golf tournament and all the proceeds go to Homes For Our Troops.
After I graduate I was to work for a non-profit organization and continue to give back to wounded troops the way I have been given to.
My name is James. I am from Ft Lauderdale, Florida and I am 24. I joined the Army in December of 2003. I am a CAV Scout and was stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado. In August 2004, after basic training, I was assigned to the Eagle Troop, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I was at Ft. Carson for a few months before we got deployed to Iraq on March 06, 2005...
I was stationed in northern Iraq, in the city of Tel Afar. I was involved in many missions and am lucky to be alive. On June 16, 2005 I was in a Bradley and got hit with a big VBIED. Three days later I was on the ground and about 20 feet away another IED went off. Then on June 26, 2005, I got shot in the stomach and the leg. I was raiding a house as the lead man. I eventually came to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, DC. I was in the hospital for about 4 months. And have been back in the hospital many times since being discharged. I've had 25 surgeries. I am still at WRNMMC continuing my rehab.
Hello, my name is Michael. I was an E-4 Corporal in the United States Army for three and a half years. I was born and raised in Oregon my whole life, and now reside in a small town called Creswell ten miles south of Eugene Oregon.
I joined the Army in May of 2002 I spent May through August in Ft. Benning, Georgia going through basic training, then Infantry school, and finally airborne school. After completing airborne school, I received my jump wings, and orders to go to Ft. Lewis Washington for assignment. I was attached to 1st squadron 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry division. It was a reconnaissance, surveillance, target, and acquisition unit, (RSTA) in the first Stryker Brigade (SBCT) unit ever formed.
After a year of brigade level training we were sent to Iraq in November of 2003. Where we operated first in Samara, and after a month we received orders to conduct combat operations in and around Tel-Afar. During the six months we rotated every two weeks to a small compound in Rabeih where we would conduct border interdiction missions, and continue hunting down Al-Qaida insurgents infiltrating through the Iraq, Syrian border.
After those six months we again moved over to Mosul to conduct counter sniper, counter mortar missions. It was here during the last two months of our deployment that our unit was hit hard. I received my fist Purple Heart on the 5th of October 2004 during my platoons return back to base, a car bomb went off next to our Stryker giving me shrapnel in my left forearm. Nothing major, I pulled the small piece of shrapnel out, returned fire, and the platoon made it back to base.
The Second Purple Heart I earned was six days later on the 11th of October 2004. On our way back from a mission a car bomb went off between our platoons two Stryker's. At the time I didn't realizes that I had lost my left arm, I thought it was just broken. I was somewhat blinded from all of the blood that was pouring down the left side of my head and face. After trying to reload my friends down in the Stryker saw what had happened to me, seeing blood pouring down the left side of my body, they pulled me down inside the vehicle to give me first aid and stop the bleeding while returning to base. I was conscious during the whole event right until my brothers carried me into the aid station where I was put under and rushed into surgery. Twenty-four hours later I was on my way to Germany for a week to stabilize, then it was off again to Walter Reed Army Medical center. I stayed there for thirteen months recuperating from my injuries and trying to cope with the loss of my left arm.
It was during my time at Walter Reed that a wonderful lady by the name of Cindy McGrew showed up in my hospital room almost every night to sit and visit with me when my parents needed a break. She would on a regular basis take myself and other vets out to dinner or to the movies, anything we wanted to do so we could get out of the hospital if only for a few hours. Besides my family Cindy was the first person to be there for me and help me move on with my life. She's like a second mom to a lot of us.
After my time at Walter Reed, I was medically retired from the US Army and returned home to Eugene Oregon in November 2005. Since returning home I married the love of my life, my wife Breeana. We live in a small house in Creswell Oregon with our two dogs Jacko & Kona, while we both are in school. I'm currently attending the University of Oregon (GO DUCKS!), working towards earning my bachelors degree in history so I can one day become a history teacher.
One of the things my wife and I look forward to every summer is donating our time and driving out to Red Lodge Montana to help run Operation Second Chance's Montana Adventures with event coordinator Hank Tuell. Bree, and I really enjoy our time out there, and it is something we look forward to every year.
Medically retired from the Army April 2007. Started college Fall 2007 and graduated Fall 2009 with my Associates Degree. Worked at the college from 2007-2009 as the Veterans Resource Advisor.
March 2010 hired by the Department of the American Legion in MN as the Assistant Department Service Officer to advocate for veterans out of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center to ensure they are aware and have timely access to their Veterans Affairs benefits, Veterans Health Care benefits and other Federal and state benefits.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." You continue to provide this to all of use who need encouragement more than anyone.
Thank you and always in my prayers.
Marissa moved back to New York State in April of 2007 to begin her new life with all her challenges. As is standard for her, nothing stood in her way. She very quickly moved in to her own apartment and began the life of a typical 23 year old lady. In 2008 she moved to Jacksonville Florida to attend college through the Track program. Once the program was completed she moved back to New York State as she missed her family and friends. In 2010 Marissa wanted to complete the degree that she had started with criminal justice and forensics, she moved back to Jacksonville and is currently living there with her two dogs. She is engaged to be married to Josh who is waiting for his orders of station.
Marissa has been having a blast traveling around and doing many things such as skiing, kayaking, boar hunting and much more. She has spoken about her experiences in front of boy scouts and other military groups. Her story is amazing and she continues to do just that with each and every endeavor in her life.
There have been many ups and downs for a young girl making the adjustments to life to accommodate her challenges. However, as anyone that knows Marissa can attest to, she is one tough cookie and gets through. Her school is currently on hold at this time as her fiance is enlisted and waiting to find out where he (they) will be stationed.
On March 29, 2005 Paul was critically injured by an IED in Tikrit, Iraq. His unit was checking out a crater left by a roadside bomb when another one went off.
Paul had very serious head and neck wounds which resulted in partial loss of the frontal lobe of his brain, total loss of hearing in his left ear, loss of his left eye, severe damage to his carotid artery on the left side of his neck, vocal cord damage to his throat and numerous other shrapnel wounds.
Paul is still at Walter Reed where he is continuing to have reconstruction surgery. In a few more months he will be permanently retired with over 17 years of service.
Notebook: Damaged, But Not Defeated (CBS) CBS News correspondent David Martin interviewed injured U.S. soldier Paul, who lost half of his skull during battle in Iraq, and filed this Reporter's Notebook on Statzer's amazing recovery.
January 14, 2006 CLICK HERE to read the full story, published in the CBS Evening News. Miraculous Help For Wounded Vets CBS News correspondent David Martin has the remarkable story of one such soldier, Paul — a real American hero — and some miracle workers at Walter Reed Army Hospital. October 7, 2005 CLICK HERE to read the full story, published in the CBS Evening News.