Resilience Beyond the Battlefield: How an IED Couldn’t Stop My Army Career

In the midst of the American workforce, where over 8.6 million people proudly identify as differently-abled, a profound story emerges – one that challenges preconceptions about disability and underscores the resilience of the human spirit. "Opinion: An IED made me a double amputee, but it didn’t end my Army career" encapsulates the inspiring journey of a 26-year Army veteran who faced a life-altering IED explosion in Iraq in 2007.

The Battle Beyond the Battlefield

Opinion: An IED made me a double amputee, but it didn

Despite the debilitating impact of the explosion, this veteran’s story transcends the limitations of physical disability. After losing both legs above the knee, the immediate challenge was recovery. However, the larger hurdle was convincing the Army that the journey did not end with the blast.

A Veteran’s Fight to Continue Service


The Army’s assumption that injuries would sideline a dedicated soldier was met with defiance. The veteran recounts the struggle against this assumption, navigating a medical evaluation aimed at determining fitness for service. The turning point came with the discovery of the Continuation On Active Duty (COAD) program – a lifeline for soldiers deemed unfit by the Physical Disability Evaluation System.

The COAD program wasn’t just a loophole; it was an opportunity to showcase the resilience and determination of disabled soldiers. Successfully gaining a COAD exemption opened the doors to directing the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program, where approximately 10,000 wounded soldiers received assistance in navigating benefits and employment transitions.

Challenging Stereotypes in the Workforce

Diversity in the workplace: a helpful guide - kiwiHR

The broader discussion extends beyond military circles, delving into the broader landscape of employment for differently-abled individuals. With more than 1.3 million disabled individuals unemployed, the veteran advocates for a shift in perspective. He emphasizes the term "differently-abled," highlighting the resourcefulness and creativity often overlooked by employers.

The Unseen Discrimination

Disabled individuals, the veteran argues, face a unique and pervasive form of discrimination. Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 opening doors, there’s still a significant wage gap – disabled individuals make 66 cents for every dollar earned by their able-bodied colleagues. The struggle extends to job opportunities, with fewer disabled individuals holding management or leadership positions.

Transparent Opportunities and Collective Responsibility

Drawing parallels between military and private industries, the veteran calls for transparency in opportunities for the disabled. Just as the Army needs to be clear about programs like COAD, private industries must also provide transparent pathways for differently-abled individuals.

In conclusion, "Opinion: An IED made me a double amputee, but it didn’t end my Army career" serves as a poignant reminder that disabled individuals are not drains on society but valuable contributors. The call for equality extends to both employers and the differently-abled community, emphasizing the need for proactive engagement to bridge the gap and dismantle discriminatory assumptions.

The Triumph of Continuation: A Soldier’s Resilience

How many amputees are there in Ireland today?

In Ireland today, around five thousand individuals are amputees or have limb deformities. The presence of role models, showcased notably in events like The Paralympics and increased media focus, has become a source of inspiration for amputees. Notable figures in the community serve as living examples, demonstrating resilience and achieving success despite physical challenges. This shift in visibility and representation is fostering a more supportive environment for amputees in Ireland.

Who is the first quadruple amputee in the US military?

"It’s incredible." Meet Brendan Marrocco, the first U.S. soldier to survive injuries as a quadruple amputee from the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts. Making history once more, this 26-year-old infantryman recently underwent a groundbreaking double-arm transplant at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The successful surgery marks a remarkable chapter in Marrocco’s journey, symbolizing both resilience and medical advancements.

Can amputees serve in combat?

In many military contexts, the norm is to restrict amputees from combat roles. However, it’s crucial to note that this limitation doesn’t inherently reflect the capability of amputees. While a soldier who has lost a limb may face challenges compared to their fully-limbed counterparts, combat situations are nuanced and not a straightforward rock-paper-scissors scenario. The question of whether amputees can serve in combat goes beyond a simple yes or no, delving into the complexities of individual capabilities and adapting to diverse military roles.

How did Billy become a double amputee?

Four years ago, Billy’s life took a drastic turn due to a harrowing racing accident, leaving him as a double amputee. Now facing an incredible challenge, Billy is determined to push his limits. To reach the finish line, he must navigate unfamiliar terrains, including walking longer distances than ever before, trying kayaking for the first time, and relearning the art of cycling after the life-altering crash.

What role did the Continuation On Active Duty (COAD) program play in the veteran’s Army career?

The Army’s Continuation on Active Duty/Continuation on Active Reserve serves as a pivotal option for soldiers deemed unfit for duty by the Physical Evaluation Board. This program played a crucial role in the veteran’s Army career, offering a pathway for continued service even in the face of physical challenges. By providing an alternative for those determined unfit, COAD becomes a lifeline, allowing soldiers to leverage their skills and experience for the benefit of the military despite initial assessments.

Do veterans have more co-morbidities than traumatic amputations?

Integrated data from the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense reveals that traumatic amputations make up less than half of 1% of the veteran population. Despite this, research indicates that amputees, while a minority in the veteran community, tend to have a higher prevalence of co-morbidities. This nuanced relationship between traumatic amputations and co-morbidities underscores the importance of comprehensive healthcare strategies for veterans beyond addressing the immediate challenges of amputation.

How can prosthetic devices help veterans with amputations?

In pursuit of enhancing the lives of veterans with amputations, VA researchers are dedicated to developing and testing a diverse range of prosthetic devices. The overarching aim is to provide solutions that align with the unique lifestyle and medical requirements of each veteran. The goal extends beyond mere functionality, aspiring to restore veterans to their utmost level of capability within the spheres of family, community, and the workplace.

How many amputees have lost limbs in combat?

Over the years, over 10,000 U.S. service men and women have faced the harrowing reality of losing limbs in combat. A significant portion of these amputations, approximately 1,500, occurred during the conflicts in the Middle East in the 21st century. The resilience of these individuals has been showcased not only in the battlegrounds but also on global platforms like the Paralympics, in legislative chambers, and within the pages of publications like Amplitude.

What diseases do amputees have After leaving military service?

Post-military service, a staggering 80% of amputees grapple with diagnoses spanning various categories. These include mental disorders, diseases affecting the nervous system and sense organs, and conditions impacting the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue, all in addition to their initial injuries (Source: VA IG Healthcare Inspection: Prosthetic Limb Care in VA Facilities).

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