Champions of Change
After finishing his bachelor’s in biology at the University of Pittsburgh, Jeremy decided to pursue his lifelong dream of joining the military, and became an Army Ranger with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq. Jeremy’s unit was sent to the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates River, and while securing the outside of the dam, an incoming artillery round detonated about 10 meters away. Although his squad had good cover, a piece of shrapnel destroyed Jeremy’s right eye, damaged the optic nerve behind his left eye, and embedded in the left frontal lobe of his brain. Jeremy spent six weeks in a medically induced coma as doctors worked to remove the shrapnel and insert a titanium mesh plate in his cranium. When he finally woke from the coma at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, he was completely blind and had some lingering damage to his brain. Even though he sustained some damage to his brain from the shrapnel, Jeremy considers himself lucky to have survived and to only experience some occasional seizures as a result of the injury. Life without sight has also presented an adjustment for the Feldbusch family. Jeremy’s mom, Charlene, quit her job to help Jeremy with his recovery, and those close to him, as with many military families, have found their lives impacted in different ways. Although life without his sight has been different, Jeremy has taken the opportunity to set new goals and work toward new achievements. Jeremy and his mom have teamed up with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to help raise awareness for the needs of injured service members. Jeremy became the first national spokesman for the WWP, an organization he sees as his second family, and was one of the individuals who spoke in Washington, D.C. for the creation of traumatic injury insurance. Since his injury, Jeremy has continued to participate in various sports such as fishing, skiing, and camping. An avid hunter since childhood, Jeremy lobbied the Pennsylvania Game Commission to enact a law that makes it legal for blind individuals to hunt with the aid of a laser grip and a licensed, sighted partner. Jeremy takes advantage of the law with the help of his dad as a guide. Additionally, on January 7, 2011, Jeremy had a facial fat graft surgery to help correct facial damage due to his injuries he received while serving in Iraq on April 3, 2003, and has since volunteered to be a part of a Fat Graft Research Project with the McGowan Institute and UPMC. Jeremy also travels to cities to attend showings of “Home Front”, a film which is centered on his experiences as a veteran returning to civilian life after being injured while serving in Iraq. He has met with President Bush, and has spoken on the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and the United Nations. In September of 2006, Jeremy was honored with the MSG William “Chief” Carlson Tomahawk Award. On Feb.26, 2010 Jeremy was also honored by the University of Pittsburgh receiving the Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award and was the youngest person to receive this honor at the age of 30 years old. Sergeant Jeremy of the U.S. Army (Ret.) continues his work with the Wounded Warrior Project and with other business endeavors. In the long term, he is planning to finish Braille training and return to school to eventually earn a Ph.D. in psychology to work as a counselor in veterans’ hospitals or have a private practice.