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NEWS | May 25, 2010

It could happen to you: Reflections of a Wounded Warrior

By Major Nathan E. Green 316th Operations Support Squadron

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of joining fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines on a rehabilitative bike ride from Washington, D.C., through the streets of Baltimore, from our very own Joint Base Andrews to Annapolis, Md. We finished 104 miles over four days of riding.

The ride was meant to instill confidence in the wounded warriors and draw attention to the many issues wounded warriors face while continuing to recover from their injuries. Many of these brave young men and women had visible injuries to include multiple amputees. There were other warriors like myself who had invisible injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury.

On April 20, 2008, I was deployed to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, when I was injured in an insurgent rocket attack. Multiple rockets were fired at the embassy, with those of us caught outside scrambling for cover. I didn't quite make it to a concrete bunker in time.

A rocket landed 30 feet behind me, knocking me unconscious. I woke up moments later on the ground. I suffered injuries to my ears and head, most notably a TBI. I am still dealing with my injuries, undergoing treatment and rehab several times a month. My outlook is one day at a time.

In our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can be called upon at any time to fill a Joint Expeditionary Tasking or do a job that is outside your career field. Even though you may not be in a typical "outside the wire" career field, you may suddenly find yourself in combat role. You may suddenly find yourself dealing with war - up close and personal.

So what to do? Stop categorizing ourselves as "a __", where you insert your particular career field. Let's categorize ourselves as warrior Airmen. Be prepared for anything, as you may deploy at any time. Be physically and mentally ready. Study more and learn more. If you are a leader, what are some innovative ways to enhance the warrior spirit? We can certainly do more as a service, but the change can begin with you. Don't wait! We may not be able to eliminate all risk, but by being prepared we can react appropriately when the worst happens.

It took a four day bike ride with wounded warriors for me to put this in perspective. In Baghdad, I was "outside the wire" multiple times for a JET tasking on some of the most dangerous roads in Baghdad. Thankfully, we never got hit. Ironically, two weeks before my departure is when I was injured by the enemy rocket.

It happened to me, the weather guy. It could happen to you. Never forget we are a nation at war.