05 April 2009

“Miracles on the Mountainside”

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bill Roy, a Special Forces medic severely wounded in Afghanistan, said participating in his first National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colo., has given him new hope he faces the future. Department of Veterans Affairs photo.

Roy was visiting a forward operating base in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, in March 2005 to check on his troops when enemy mortar rounds and rockets from across the Pakistan border came raining on him and his troops. A 122 mm rocket lifted Roy off his feet, throwing him 25 yards away.

Roy knew he was in pain and had mobility problems, but had no idea how badly he’d been wounded. He returned to his headquarters in Kabul the next day and “sucked it up” for the remaining 90 days of his deployment.

It wasn’t until he redeployed to his mobilization station at Fort Benning, Ga., that a medical examination revealed just how much damage the blast had inflicted. His diagnosis: “disintegrated” vertebrae that caused “major paralysis,” two fractured kneecaps, two torn rotator cuffs, shrapnel in his head, traumatic brain injury and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But yesterday, Roy put all that aside, along with his cane, and slipped into an adaptive sit-ski. Flanked by two volunteer ski instructors, he schussed down Snowmass Mountain, leaving a cloud of fresh powder snow in his wake.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever do something like that again,” Roy said, shaking his head as an ear-to-ear smile stretched across his face.

More on the 23rd “Miracles on the Mountainside” winter sports clinic, an annual event jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans.

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