My dad is a retired Boatswain’s Mate in the U.S. Navy. He has right side hemiplegia, which is a paralysis of the right side of his body, expressive aphasia, and PTSD along with other injuries. His “physical therapy”, of sorts, are sports like archery (which is his favorite), recumbent, bowling, and shotput. This is him doing archery in the Wounded Warrior Pre-Game Pacific Trials this November.
What I will never be able to get over is how he can do so much with all that has affected him. I don’t know when, but while he was deployed to the Philippines, he fell off a five-ton, and hit his head really hard. That caused a stroke while aboard the USS Tortuga in 2007, I guess a few years after he fell, when we were stationed in La Maddalena, Italy. He was sent to Balboa Hospital in San Diego, CA, in 2007 while My family and I went back to Japan, because they thought they could help my dad with what he needed and then send him back to finish his work in Japan. But he wasn’t able to, he got worse.
For a year and a half, my brothers and I hadn’t seen our dad, phone calls and pictures were our only way of contact. Then, in the middle of 2008, we moved to San Diego. It was a huge culture shock because that was my first time in my life that I was stateside for good. I was overseas for 15 years, with only one memory of vacationing in the states. But anyways, we were stateside, finally with my dad. At first, things were alright, he had a limp so he needed a cane, but that was about it. But as the years went on, things got progressively worse, and he soon had to retire. In September 2010, my dad medically retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service. And at that same time, we moved to my dad’s “permanent duty station” in San Antonio, Texas.
It hard seeing my dad pretty much deteriorate before my eyes. Seizures, paralysis, infections and other things have affected him to the point where he pretty much has a hard time doing a lot of things he used to do himself. But the thing is, everyday, he’s still mentally strong, and is continuously supportive of me in my endeavors and of my family.
He is now in this program called the Wounded Warrior Program. Not many people have heard of it, which is kind of sad, because there are so many disabled/injured vets that could really benefit from this program. The Wounded Warriors, in conjunction with Navy Safe Harbor, have helped my dad to accommodate his injuries and put his hidden skills, like archery, to good, competitive, all-around fun use.
My dad has taught me so much, like what it means to serve, to give your life to your country, whether it be for selfish or altruistic reasons. My dad has inspired me to always stay strong, loyal, and true to myself and my country. And I can’t wait to follow in his footsteps.