[nfbwatlk] Fwd: [Wcb-l] Blind Soldier

Alco Canfield amcanfield at comcast.net
Mon Nov 15 23:24:02 CST 2010



ALCO

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Carl Jarvis" <carjar82 at gmail.com>
> Date: November 15, 2010 8:28:43 PM PST
> To: "Marlaina Lieberg" <1guidedog at gmail.com>, "wcb" <wcb-l at wcbinfo.org>, "SKB" <skb-l at wcbinfo.org>
> Subject: [Wcb-l] Blind Soldier
> 

> Thanks Marlaina,
> A strong, positive story.  Plenty of jobs for blind folks in the Military. 
> Carl Jarvis
>  
> 
> Blind soldier from Pasco finds niche in military
> MICHAEL HILL ASSOCIATED PRESS
> WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Since a car bomb blinded Capt. Scott Smiley in Iraq, 
> he has skied Vail, climbed Mount Rainier, earned his MBA, raised two 
> young boys with his wife, won an Espy award and pulled himself up from 
> faith-shaking depths.
> Smiley, 30, has snagged attention for his big accomplishments. But the 
> daily ones are telling too, including the recent tour he gave of his 
> staff's offices at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was 
> scheduled to attend President Obama's address of the Class of 10 on 
> Saturday.
> Unable to see the path around the workers' cubicles, Smiley stepped 
> forward with a joke to the camouflage-clad officers he was showing 
> around: "I walk around, and when I hit things, I move," he said.
> An aide trailing him said softly, "Turn right, sir," at a doorway. 
> Smiley turned.
> Smiley, of Pasco, is one of only a handful of soldiers who chose to 
> remain on active duty after being blinded by fighting in Iraq and 
> Afghanistan, a practice that's rare but one that military officials say 
> benefits both parties.
> Though unable to return to his old infantry duties in Iraq, Smiley has 
> thrived in stateside postings such as his latest at West Point, from 
> which he graduated in 03. He now commands the Warrior Transition Unit 
> at West Point for ailing or wounded soldiers.
> Voice software allows Smiley to listen to e-mails, books and pamphlets. 
> Aides help him navigate and tell him what order he's signing. It's a 
> little like changing his son's diapers at home: He's fine as long as he 
> knows where everything is.
> His resiliency and energy helped him earn the 07 Soldier of the Year 
> commendation from the publication Army Times, as well as an ESPN Espy 
> award in 08 for best outdoor athlete.
> He earned his master's of business administration at Duke University and 
> has spoken to the Olympic and Duke  teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski, a 
> fellow West Point alum. He has a memoir coming out this year titled, 
> Hope Unseen.
> Smiley said he's not trying to prove anything with his exploits.
> "In terms of getting an MBA, climbing Mount Rainier, it's what I always 
> wanted to do," he said. "Why should I stop that?"
> Smiley was injured April 6, 05, six months into a deployment to Iraq. 
> He led patrols through Mosul, a dangerous city where a too-high pile of 
> garbage could be hiding explosives and the enemy blended in with the 
> populace.
> Sgt. 1st Class Mike Branham, who served as a squad leader under Smiley, 
> said his fellow serviceman was a topflight officer, one who stood out 
> for his deep Christian faith and detailed knowledge of his soldiers.
> "He knew their names, he knew their wives' names, he knew their likes 
> and dislikes," Branham said.
> Smiley was leading a patrol in an armored Stryker vehicle when, from his 
> perch in the forward hatch, he spotted a silver Opel that matched 
> intelligence descriptions of a potential  car bomb. The trunk appeared to 
> be weighed down and the driver acted as though he didn't understand 
> Smiley, who fired warning shots at the ground when it looked as if the 
> driver was going to pull forward.
> The driver raised his hands, and the car went up in a fireball.
> Shrapnel tore through Smiley's left eye and lodged in his frontal brain 
> lobe; another fragment the size of a pencil lead pierced his right eye.
> Slumped unconscious in the Stryker hatch, Smiley was rushed to a medical 
> center, where he briefly flatlined as friends prayed at his bedside.
> Branham recalls, "I didn't think he was going to make it past that day 
> at all."
> He was left permanently blinded and temporarily paralyzed on his right 
> side.
> Stabilized and shipped stateside, Smiley struggled with his fate. He had 
> vowed at his wedding to take care of his wife, Tiffany, and there she 
> was, taking care of him. The exertion of wiggling his big toe required a 
> three-hour nap.
> He received his Purple Heart on his hospital bed. A video posted on 
> YouTube of the ceremony shows his brother Neal struggling to maintain 
> composure as he reads the citation. Smiley, looking beaten and 
> uncomfortable in his bed, turns his head away.
> "When I got to the hospital and I finally realized what happened, what 
> my life was going to be like, I didn't believe in God. I questioned my 
> faith. I questioned everything that was ever said to me before," Smiley 
> said. "Because in my mind, why would God allow something like this to 
> happen to me?"
> Smiley credits his wife, family and faith for helping him accept his 
> condition. Ultimately, he decided he didn't want to be like the Lt. Dan 
> character played by Gary Sinise in Forrest Gump, the officer who wants 
> to be left to die when he loses his legs in Vietnam. He would push on. 
> And if his path kept him in the Army, that was fine.
> "I was totally prepared to get out," he said. "But still in the back of 
> my mind, it was: 'I still have so much to give. I love serving my 
> country."'
> The Army says at least four other totally or partially blind soldiers 
> have remained on active duty since Iraq and Afghanistan.
> Capt. Ivan Castro lost his sight and suffered other serious injuries in 
> a 06 mortar attack in Iraq and is now stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., 
> with the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion. Castro, a 42-year-old 
> who runs mara-thons and 50-mile races, appears to share some personality 
> traits with Smiley -- and says he also felt he still had something to 
> serve after being injured.
> "I've been doing this for over 18 years," Castro, who was born in 
> Hoboken, N.J., and grew up in Puerto Rico, said in a phone interview. 
> "This is all I know. This is what I love. This is what I live for."
> Castro's commander, Lt. Col. Fredrick Dummar, said the continued service 
> by blind soldiers fits with the military philosophy that everyone has 
> unique abilities and that "there's always somebody on the team that can 
> accomplish a mission."
> Smiley was at first posted at Accessions Command, which oversees 
> recruiting, and later earned his MBA. He returned to West Point last 
> year to teach and took command this year of the Warrior Transition Unit 
> here this year. He lives on post with Tiffany and their two young boys. 
> After the West Point graduation ceremony Saturday, he plans to pin 
> lieutenant bars on one of the roughly 1,000 cadets who will become new 
> Army officers.
> Smiley conceded that he might have a better understanding of the ailing 
> soldiers under his command but is quick to add that his overriding 
> concern is maintaining Army standards -- for his soldiers and for 
> himself.
> 
> 
> 09
> 
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> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><B><FONT SIZE3D6  FACE3D"Arial">Blind soldier from Pasco 
> finds niche in military </FONT></B></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><B><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">MICHAEL HILL ASSOCIATED 
> PRESS </FONT></B></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Since a 
> car bomb blinded Capt. Scott Smiley in Iraq, he has skied Vail, climbed 
> Mount Rainier, earned his MBA, raised two young boys with his wife, won 
> an Espy award and pulled himself up  from faith-shaking 
> depths.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley, 30, has snagged 
> attention for his big accomplishments. But the daily ones are telling 
> too, including the recent tour he gave of his staff's offices at the 
> U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was scheduled to attend 
> President Obama's address of the Class of 10 on Saturday.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Unable to see the path around 
> the workers' cubicles, Smiley stepped forward with a joke to the 
> camouflage-clad officers he was showing around: "I walk around, and 
> when I hit things, I move," he said. </FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">An aide trailing him said 
> softly, "Turn right, sir," at a doorway. Smiley 
> turned.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley, of Pasco, is one of 
> only a handful of soldiers who chose to remain on active duty after 
> being blinded by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that's 
> rare but one that military officials say  benefits both 
> parties.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Though unable to return to 
> his old infantry duties in Iraq, Smiley has thrived in stateside 
> postings such as his latest at West Point, from which he graduated in 
> 03. He now commands the Warrior Transition Unit at West Point for 
> ailing or wounded soldiers.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Voice software allows Smiley 
> to listen to e-mails, books and pamphlets. Aides help him navigate and 
> tell him what order he's signing. It's a little like changing his son's 
> diapers at home: He's fine as long as  he knows where everything 
> is.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">His resiliency and energy 
> helped him earn the 07 Soldier of the Year commendation from the 
> publication Army Times, as well as an ESPN Espy award in 08 for best 
> outdoor athlete.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">He earned his master's of 
> business administration at Duke University and has spoken to the Olympic 
> and Duke teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski, a fellow West Point alum. He 
> has a memoir coming out this year titled, Hope Unseen.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley said he's not trying 
> to prove anything with his exploits.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">"In terms of getting an 
> MBA, climbing Mount Rainier, it's what I always wanted to do," he  
> said. "Why should I stop that?"</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley was injured April 6, 
> 05, six months into a deployment to Iraq. He led patrols through 
> Mosul, a dangerous city where a too-high pile of garbage could be hiding 
> explosives and the enemy blended in  with the populace.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Sgt. 1st Class Mike Branham, 
> who served as a squad leader under Smiley, said his fellow serviceman 
> was a topflight officer, one who stood out for his deep Christian faith 
> and detailed knowledge of his soldiers.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">"He knew their names, he 
> knew their wives' names, he knew their likes and dislikes," Branham 
> said.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley was leading a patrol 
> in an armored Stryker vehicle when, from his perch in the forward hatch, 
> he spotted a silver Opel that matched intelligence descriptions of a 
> potential car bomb. The trunk appeared to be weighed down and the driver 
> acted as though he didn't understand Smiley, who fired warning shots at 
> the ground when it looked as if the driver was going to pull 
> forward.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">The driver raised his hands, 
> and the car went up in a fireball.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Shrapnel tore through 
> Smiley's left eye and lodged in his frontal brain lobe; another fragment 
> the size of a pencil lead pierced his right eye.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Slumped unconscious in the 
> Stryker hatch, Smiley was rushed to a medical center, where he briefly 
> flatlined as friends prayed at his bedside.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Branham recalls, "I 
> didn't think he was going to make it past that day at 
> all."</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">He was left permanently 
> blinded and temporarily paralyzed on his right side.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Stabilized and shipped 
> stateside, Smiley struggled with his fate. He had vowed at his wedding 
> to take care of his wife, Tiffany, and there she was, taking care of 
> him. The exertion of wiggling his big toe required a three-hour 
> nap.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">He received his Purple Heart 
> on his hospital bed. A video posted on YouTube of the ceremony shows his 
> brother Neal struggling to maintain composure as he reads the citation. 
> Smiley, looking beaten and uncomfortable in his bed, turns his head 
> away.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">"When I got to the 
> hospital and I finally realized what happened, what my life was going to 
> be like, I didn't believe in God. I questioned my faith. I questioned 
> everything that was ever said to me before," Smiley said. 
> "Because in my mind, why would God allow something like this to 
> happen to me?"</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Smiley credits his wife, 
> family and faith for helping him accept his condition. Ultimately, he 
> decided he didn't want to be like the Lt. Dan character played by Gary 
> Sinise in Forrest Gump, the officer who wants to be left to die when he 
> loses his legs in Vietnam. He would push on. And if his path kept him in 
> the Army, that was fine.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">"I was totally prepared 
> to get out," he said. "But still in the back of my mind, it 
> was: 'I still have so much to give. I love serving my 
> country."'</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">The Army says at least four 
> other totally or partially blind soldiers have remained on active duty 
> since Iraq and Afghanistan.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">Capt. Ivan Castro lost his 
> sight and suffered other serious injuries in a 06 mortar attack in 
> Iraq and is now stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., with the Special 
> Operations Recruiting Battalion. Castro, a 42-year-old who runs 
> mara-thons and 50-mile races, appears to share some personality traits 
> with Smiley -- and says he also felt he still had something to serve 
> after being injured.</FONT></P>
> 
> <P DIR3DLTR><FONT SIZE3D2 FACE3D"Arial">"I've been doing this 
> for over 18 years," Castro, who was born in Hoboken, N.J., and grew  
> up in Puerto Rico, said in a phone interview. "This is all I know. 
> This is what I love. This is what I live  for."</FONT></P>
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