I am a military Police Sergeant First Class. I have been in the Army for 10 years, and I have held every duty position that an enlisted Military Police officer can hold, up until company First Sergeant. I have been stationed in North Carolina, Korea, Missouri and Iraq. The day I was injured, I was out on a patrol and passed an IED (a roadside bomb) that exploded next to my side of the vehicle, and a piece of shrapnel went through my door and took almost all of my right leg off instantaneously.
After being heroically saved by a squad member, I lost my pulse in the small medical clinic that was the nearest facility to our location. It was almost 18 minutes from the time I was hit before we reached the medical clinic. In that time I lost enough blood through my femoral artery to be considered clinically dead. They resuscitated me once there, then a second time on the way to the larger hospital in the green zone on the Blackhawk. The medics were still in the process of resuscitating me when we landed.
Looking back, there were two times when I didn't see how I would make it through moments in my recovery. The first time was when I came to the realization that I had a traumatic brain injury from lack of blood to my brain, and the only way to overcome my disability was to be trained to make my brain comprehend normally. The second time was when I understood how hard it was to re-learn to walk after losing my leg, and that I needed to take a break until further notice (2 years).
I am an optimist to my core, and I can't dwell on the negative consequences of my injury; I would never make it out of bed if I did. Being involved in sports is relatively new to me. My entire life I have never had any interest in sports, but after participating in them intensely after I was hurt, I became very interested in setting goals that involve sports. Through all of this I have realized that my life mission is to inspire others to become better people, better members of society, and better women.
There was a long time that I was bitter, not only at the people who wanted to hurt me but at myself. I thought maybe it was because I'm a woman, or because I was a terrible squad leader, because I wasn't looking out for my soldiers. It took me a long time to realize it was just bad luck. I could be mad at somebody, but why? How is that going to help me, or help anyone become a better person? That's my mission in life now, I guess, to help people.
This article is part of a DailyStrength series celebrating Fourth of July week, and recognizing and honoring veterans and their efforts to serve and protect. Read more stories including first-hand accounts from veterans themselves, tips for a great holiday, and more resources for veterans.