Veterans Share Near-Death Experiences
Advocacy When a service member is severely injured in battle, that day is thereafter referred to as their “alive day” — a day when life is changed irrevocably.
For Staff Sergeant Chad Brumpton,that day is May 8, 2005. After his platoon assisted another team in securing a bridge near Al Qaim,Iraq,an improvised explosive device (IED) blew a hole through his tank, shattering his legs from the knee down. Chad endured 19 surgeries in two years, then made the difficult decision to have his legs amputated below the knee in January 2008.
He says, “I had a lot of pain, and didn’t want to take so much medication, but was concerned about what my new normal would be.” I’ll carry you Because of advances in medical technology, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are more likely to survive catastrophic injuries than in the past, and must learn to live with debilitating physical as well as mental health issues.
Following his surgery, Chad was determined to rebuild a productive life.
“My goal is to get a bachelor’s degree and go around the world hiking and doing things people wouldn’t think I could do."
He sought help from a post-traumatic stress disorder psychologist and got involved with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), an initiative started by veterans to provide injured- service members with programs developed to help them thrive. “I thought WWP would give me a way to network with other warriors, but it turned into a vehicle to help others,” says Chad. “It was very therapeutic, because I started out as the one who was carried off the battlefield and became the one doing the carrying.” you can do anything Private First Class Ben Maenza’s Alive Day is Oct. 21, 2010.
Just three weeks into his first tour in Afghanistan, he was patrol- ling for IEDs when one exploded under his foot, severing his legs above the knees. He says WWP has been an important part of his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “WWP taught me that even though I don’t have legs, I can still do many things. I’ve gone swimming, kayak- ing and snowboarding; and I’m about to hand cycle the Marine Corps Marathon.” Ben says his rehabilitation is going very well, and he has his eye on a February return home to Memphis. “My goal is to get a bachelor’s degree and go around the world hiking and doing things people wouldn’t think I could do. I want to motivate people to understand they can do anything they want.”