A bomb flipped my life upside down.
Thirteen years ago while I was deployed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, I was moving through the Kandahar Valley with a small team of Army Rangers. As a bomb technician under the Joint Special Operations Command, my mission was to clear the path for the team to capture or kill high-value targets.
I was confident that there were improvised explosive devices (IED) in the area, and I was right. With one step, I was sent flying through the air by a force so strong that the wind was knocked out of me. Everything was numb. I could taste the dirt in my mouth and hear the shouts of “EOD is hit, EOD is down!” through my earpiece.
The pain of my team wrenching tourniquets down on what remained of my legs and my left arm is the most pain I’ve ever experienced. The last thing that I remember is seeing my men from the window of the helicopter rendering me one final salute.
Many years have passed and a lot has happened since that day, but I still remember it vividly. During my recovery, I was sitting in a bed in Walter Reed Hospital trying to make sense of what had happened, when my father gave me life-changing advice: he told me that I could not let my best days of service be behind me.
His tough love was exactly what I needed. While my life no longer looked the way I had thought that it would, I was not going to throw a pity party. I was going to find a new way to make a difference and set an example for my children. Now, instead of remembering today as the day of my last mission or the day I lost my two legs and a finger, I remember September 19th as my “Alive Day.”
Even at the toughest of times, my father’s words echo in my head and I continue to stand up and fight because I believe that if you spend your life serving something bigger than yourself, you’ll leave this world with no regret.
Now, as your Representative, I have a new mission - to serve our community and our country in the halls of Congress. Just like the men and women I woke up next to in Walter Reed, I’ll fight to make sure that we each have the freedom to decide that today can be better than yesterday, because that is what our country is all about.