Highlight text to annotate itX
Chris, United States Marine Corps, February, 2005 until
May of 2010.
I served in Iraq in 2007.
I was fire team leader, and they were about
to go out on patrol.
So as I just came off watch, I didn't have to go out on
patrol with them.
But I wanted to give one of my boys a break.
So I took the radio from him.
I was like, you just chill on the wire, and I'll go out.
So we don't say anything.
And the villagers are really friendly and
everything, you know.
The goats, the kids playing soccer.
So we go to the bridge.
Well, before we get there, actually, a guy comes across
And we're like, there's something not
right about this guy.
There's this sixth sense.
When you're there long enough, you could just
kind of feel people.
And you could tell what's off.
But we can't just go off of suspicion.
So we get this guy, and we check him.
And everything checks out on him.
So we're like, keep an eye on him, just while we go across
So two by two across the bridge, and because I'm
carrying the radio, I'm next to the squad leader.
And I'm in the middle of the patrol.
So we go across the bridge, and I'm talking with my staff
sergeant, squad leader.
And he looks at me, and you're supposed to keep dispersion,
the distance between.
But we were having a conversation.
And he was like, hey, you know we're walking a little close?
I'm like, yeah, we are.
Like, all right, well, why don't you slow down?
And no sooner than he said that, I
woke up in the hospital.
And I didn't even know what the hell happened.
I forgot I was in Iraq.
I didn't know anything.
I knew I was in the Marine Corps still.
I didn't know what happened.
I had no idea, but I knew this wasn't right.
So I start pulling out things out of my arms. And I start
trying to get up and walk out of bed.
Didn't make it too far.
And I was in a coma for a couple of days.
And I could barely remember Iraq, and I could barely
remember much of anything.
And when I asked the doctors, they didn't know what the hell
happened to me, either.
They were like, you got blown up.
Because I thought I was hit in a vehicle, I was asking, what
happened to my boys?
What happened to my turret gunner?
What happened to my driver?
What happened to the crew in back?
What happened to this Marine, this Marine, this Marine?
And they're like, we don't know.
And that was the worst feeling, not knowing what
happened to your boys.
Especially because I was a vehicle commander.
That means I did something wrong.
So as I found out later on, I was on foot.
That made me feel so much better, because I was
the only one hit.
It was like taking a load off my back.
When I first came to, everything was in casts.
Left arm, left leg, right arm--
I mean, right leg.
My right arm was the only thing not messed up.
And I didn't know the severity of my injuries.
So I asked the doctors, how long before I can go back?
When can I go back?
They're like, oh, six weeks.
Just give it a few weeks, and your bones will heal, and then
you can go back over there.
I'm like, all right, awesome.
6 weeks turned into 12 weeks.
12 weeks turned into 18 weeks.
18 weeks turned into 16 months.
I actually had all of my limbs when I came to in Maryland.
And they really didn't tell me too much about amputation.
They told me they were considering it, but not worry
about it now.
Then when I got transferred to Balboa, the Naval hospital in
San Diego, I had to go through physical therapy and
But I still had a lot of hardware on me, a lot of
external fixators and everything.
I go down there, and they tell me I should consider
Just consider amputation.
And that was--
They told me I wouldn't have to.
They told me that wasn't an option.
I wasn't cutting anything off.
I came in the world with it.
I ain't taking it off.
It's going out with me.
And I cried.
For a couple of days, I cried.
Almost as hard as when I cried when I found out
my boys were gone.
And then, I met a couple of amputees, actually.
I didn't even know they were amputees.
They come strutting in my room and sitting down
to talk with me.
I'm like, all right, what do you know?
Then he walks out, and he's got shorts on, and he's
missing his dog gone leg.
I was like, whoa.
Then I go down to the physical therapy, the C5 unit there,
and there was a guy doing back flips down the
hallway with one leg.
I was like, huh.
So the option of amputation started to
seem a little better.
They told me they could fuse it and save my leg, and that
would probably mean that I could not stay in the Marine
Corps, I could not run again, and so many things that I
would not be able to do.
And then I remembered seeing the guy doing back flips.
And I was like, you can do a back flip on one leg.
What's the point in having two legs when you can't do
anything with them?
So I told them to cut it off.
When they cut it off, it was really hard.
It really kind of screws up your image of
yourself, you know?
I hated going out when I didn't have my leg, when I
actually didn't have my prosthetic,
because people looked.
And when people look, people ask.
And if people asked, that means I have to talk.
And I have to talk to people that didn't know.
And that was the hardest thing, because it's
frustrating when you try and talk to people that don't
You kind of go into this bubble, and the bubble you
don't want to leave. It usually consists of home,
work, and a select few friends.
And you don't want to interact with anything
outside of that bubble.
You don't want to go to stores.
You don't want to go to movies.
For the longest time, all these great opportunities were
coming up, and because I was in my bubble, I refused to
participate in them.
I wasn't going to do anything.
I ain't doing it.
Cycling, going to car races?
I ain't doing it.
If I've got to leave my room for any more than 12 hours, it
There's a bridge that goes over from San Diego to
Coronado, the island, and it's the Bay Bridge.
And every year around May, they have a 5K run-walk over
And all these people we're going to run it.
And I was still in my wheelchair.
I had my leg, but I wasn't really supposed to walk.
And my left arm was so messed up, I still had-- it was a one
arm drive wheelchair, so I had to do it with my one arm.
And my friend was like, I'll do it with you.
I'll push you up it, and we'll go out and do it.
So I did it.
I went up the bridge.
And coming down the bridge, the wheelchair broke.
So that was my first time really
walking without anything.
I walked across the finish line, and it was great.
And then the people were there clapping.
And the people were happy and excited.
And I was like, wow, this feels good.
I like this.
And the whole "no" to everything, it stopped.
Like, that day.
I stopped saying no.
If I had no reason to say no, I wasn't going to.
That's probably the best thing that's ever happened to me.
When you stop saying no to everything, so many more
opportunities come along.
And that's what really got me out of that bubble.
That day, and the bridge, opened up so much.
I actually had a good friend of mine, one of the guys that
saved my life, and he came back from deployment.
And he's deployed many times, and he's come back fine.
But this time he's come back, and he just couldn't
understand why he was sad all of a sudden, and why he was
mad, and why he cried all the time, and why
all this stuff happened.
He thought there was something wrong with him.
And why all the guys he was there with, none of
them were doing it.
But I had to tell them that they are doing it.
They just hide it, just like you're hiding it.
The only thing wrong with you is not going to get help.
Because it takes true strength to ask for help.
And he did, and he's doing a lot better now.
You can't be fine coming back from some of the things that
you went through, that happens over there.
It's just impossible.
It's OK to not be OK.
It's OK to go get help.
It's OK to talk to people.
Your situation may be unique, but it's not the
only one like it.
Somebody else has been through it.
Somebody else is willing to help you through yours.
Just you have to ask, you have to talk.