By Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, April 26, 2013 – When I saw the Boston bombing events unfold, my heart broke for the victims of this senseless act of violence.
I thought about how their lives would be forever altered. How the victims who lost one or more limbs were robbed, at least temporarily, of the ability to walk or run.
These are the types of injuries I see each day when I walk into work at Brooke Army Medical Center — single, double and even triple amputees striving to overcome immense challenges. They, perhaps more than any others, can relate to the devastating aftermath of an explosion and the emotional and physical pain of lost limbs. And they know firsthand the courage and strength required to heal.
Still, they have a message of hope to deliver.
Army Sgt. Christopher Haley, an amputee recovering at BAMC, asked me to convey this message to the Boston victims: “Keep your head up and don’t quit,”
Haley lost his leg and damaged the other when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan in September 2011. He was devastated by his loss and unsure of how he would move on.
Then, early in his recovery, an amputee walked into his hospital room and delivered something he’d been lacking in recent days – hope. Haley thought, “If he can do it, then I can too.”
Today, Haley walks, runs, plays wheelchair basketball, and plans to take up sled hockey next year.
Haley told me he has every confidence that the Boston victims will also move forward from this difficult time. “They didn’t deserve it, but the one thing they can do now is come out on top.”
Army Sgt. Jordan Sisco told me he was shocked and horrified when he saw the Boston bombings on the news. The IED explosion that robbed him of his legs and his left thumb in Afghanistan last summer was still fresh in his mind.
Like Haley, Sisco vividly recalls the moment the blast hit. He was leading his squad on a surveillance mission when he took a step and landed on a homemade bomb.
Sisco said his early days of recovery were dark ones. He was devastated by the loss of his legs and worried about his ability to find someone to love.
The soldier slowly pulled out of his depression by leaning on his family, friends and caregivers at the Center for the Intrepid, BAMC’s outpatient rehabilitation center here.
He also began setting goals for himself – new prostheses, walking again — and recently decided to again take up surfing, a sport he fell in love with while growing up along the coast of California. He told me his recent weeklong surfing trip was “pure bliss.”
While he’s overcome one challenge after another, his biggest accomplishment, Sisco told me, is never giving up. “Many people have gone on from here to live happy and healthy lives after a horrible injury,” he said. “If I can do it, if the people in front of me can do it, I know the Boston victims can too.”
Even after devastating injuries, these soldiers have learned to walk, run and even dance again. They still have moments of intense joy and have found restored hope for the future.
They, and countless other wounded service members, can serve as a testament to our strength of spirit as Americans, and, I hope, as an inspiration to the recovering patients in Boston.