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Wounded Soldiers Share Journey to Inspire Boston Victims

By Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center

 

Wounded soldiers recovering here have a message they’d like to pass on to the Boston bombing victims: You’re not alone.

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Army Sgt. Jordan Sisco acclimates to a surfboard during a surfing trip to Santa Cruz, Calif., sponsored by Operation Surf, April 22, 2013. A surfer when he was growing up, Sisco recently rediscovered his passion for the sport. Courtesy photo by Rod Brodman
  

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They 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 after blast injuries like those at the Boston Marathon.

Still, they have a message of hope to deliver.

“Keep your head up and don’t quit,” Army Sgt. Christopher Haley said.

Haley lost his right leg and injured his left when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan in September 2011. He remembers the moments after — the shock and disbelief and the quick ride to Kandahar. The doctors induced a coma, and when he woke up in Bagram, he took one look at his legs and cried.

“I thought it was all a terrible dream,” he said. “When I realized it actually happened … that was rough.”

Haley was flown to San Antonio Military Medical Center to recover. A few weeks later, an amputee walked into his hospital room and delivered something he’d been lacking in recent days -– hope.

“I thought to myself, ‘If he can do it, there’s no reason I can’t,’” he said. “And I realized my life wasn’t over; I still have a lot of potential.”

This is the exact message he’d like to convey to the Boston bombing victims. “I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” he said. “But plenty of people want to see you succeed. I want to see you succeed.”

Army Sgt. Jordan Sisco said he was shocked and horrified when he saw the Boston bombings on the news. The incident that robbed him of his legs and his left thumb last summer was still fresh in his mind.
“I have an idea of what the Boston victims are going through,” he said. “I don’t know, but I have an idea.”

Like Haley, Sisco vividly recalls the moment the blast hit. He was leading his squad on a surveillance mission near the site where his best friend had been injured just hours earlier. He jumped into a ditch and landed on a bomb. Time stopped at that moment, he said.

The explosion lifted him into the air “like a tornado,” and a dark wall of sand surrounded him. He landed on his face and his first thought was a calm one, “I’m OK. I’m alive.”

Moments later the “unbearable” pain set in, and he began to pray. “God, let me see my Mom one more time.” While on the chopper being rushed to care, he last remembers reaching out to hold the hand of a female medic. When he next woke up he was in the hospital and the first person he saw was his Mom.

While glad to be alive, those early days of recovery were dark ones. “When I woke up in the hospital and discovered I had no legs … I was devastated. I didn’t think there would be a girl out there for me.”

And if there was, Sisco worried about being able to support and protect a wife and family.

“It took a lot to get me out of that,” he said. “That was a very dark period for me.”

Sisco slowly pulled out of his depression by leaning on his family, friends and caregivers at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s outpatient rehabilitation center here. Talking about his situation helped, he said. “It’s good to talk and hang out with people,” he said. When alone, he rediscovered his love of movies and classic rock.

Sisco began setting goals for himself — new prosthetics, 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 was nervous and scared at first, but when he got on the board and caught the first wave, he popped up and rode inland. “It was absolutely amazing,” he said, “pure bliss.”

While he’s overcome one challenge after another, his biggest accomplishment, Sisco said, is never giving up.

“There were so many times when I felt like life was over,” he said. “But it’s not the end of the road yet.

“Many people have gone on from here to live happy and healthy lives after a horrible injury,” he added. “If I can do it, if the people in front of me can do it, I know the Boston victims can too.”

Haley has found healing in talking about his experiences and taking up sports such as running and wheelchair basketball. He began to run, not because he enjoys it, he said, but because he can.

Today, the soldier’s new goal is finding that one thing he can’t do. “I haven’t found it yet,” he said with a smile.

Haley said he has every confidence that the Boston victims will move forward from this difficult time.

“They didn’t deserve it,” he said. “But the one thing they can do now is come out on top.”

Related Sites:
Brooke Army Medical Center
Operation Surf

Click photo for screen-resolution image Army Sgt. Christopher Haley works out at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s rehabilitation facility, April 25, 2013. Haley lost his left leg and his right leg was injured when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan in September 2011. U.S. Army photo by Robert T. Shields  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image Army Sgt. Jordan Sisco lost his legs and his left thumb in 2012 when he stepped on a homemade bomb in Afghanistan. Today, he shares his story in hopes of inspiring others facing the same types of injuries. Courtesy photo  
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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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