On Aug. 17, 2004, my life changed forever. We had just finished a mission training the Iraqi Army in Taji, and I was driving through the streets of Baqubah when I hit an IED. After being evacuated to Baghdad, I ended up at Brooke Army Medical Center for eight months, had 17 surgeries, spent 40 days in ICU, and eventually lost my leg.
The beginning of my transition from military to civilian life was tough. I had night sweats and terrors about the explosion. When I lost my leg, I felt like I wasn’t the same person. I wondered how I would walk or support my family. I even thought about taking my life.
The turning point was when I started to talk about my experiences – I realized that my life wasn’t over. I built a support system of my family, my church, my unit and other Service members. Reaching out to other members of the military, especially through peer therapy, has been great for me – in fact I still attend peer sessions today.
We will leave no military service member and their family behind in the field of battle. This is my story of recovery, and reaching out. What’s yours? Starting today, I’d like to invite other Service members, veterans and families to share their stories and advice on how to make the transition to civilian life easier for your fellow Service members and families. What has helped you?
--Major Ed Pulido