Growing up with three brothers, life has always been competitive. So in 2007, 10 days after graduating high school, it was only natural for me to follow in my older brothers’ footsteps and join the Navy to serve as a corpsman. In 2011, I deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
On March 26, while running to render care to a Marine who had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED), I also stepped on an IED, which severely injured my left leg. I was sent to Balboa Hospital with the expectation that I would have my left leg amputated.
There, I met Lt. Valdez, my Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor representative, who advised me to delay my amputation to see what a non-medicated life would be like with an injured leg. Lt. Valdez’s advice was some of the best I have received in my life. By taking time to weigh my options, I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to amputate.
Lt. Valdez also connected me to adaptive sports, which led to some great experiences competing on behalf of Team Navy – from London to Colorado Springs. It has helped me find the same camaraderie I have known since childhood.
At the starting blocks at track and field races, the wounded warriors good-naturedly tease one another. “Break a leg!” they say, when, of course, we are all missing one. But even though we’ve been hurt, we won’t let that stop us.