The Huffington Post launched a 10-part series today called “Beyond the Battlefield,” promised as an “exploration of the physical and emotional challenges, victories and setbacks that catastrophically wounded soldiers encounter after returning home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
If the first piece is any indication, it’ll be a good one. Respected defense reporter David Wood focuses on Cpl. Tyler Southern, who was an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, on May 5, 2010, when his body was rocked by an improvised explosive device in Now Zad district.
Southern was nearly killed and lost both legs and his right arm — but he has endured.
A key passage:
He was unconscious for 14 days after being blown up. “I went to sleep on the 4th [the night before the blast]and I woke up on the 18th in Bethesda,” he said. “In between, I don’t remember a thing.”
When he did claw his way into consciousness, no one knew if he would awake with his full brain capacity or whether his near-death experiences had left him in a vegetative state. Doctors urged him along: “Say your name, Tyler. Say your name.” No response. “Tyler, say your name!” Nothing. His mom stood watch at the foot of the bed, gripping the rail. Finally she burst out, “Tyler! Say hi to your mama!”
“Hi Mama,” he croaked.
Tears streaming, she bent over him, shielding him from the sight of his missing legs. “You were injured in Afghanistan,” she whispered. “You’re missing both legs and one arm. You’re okay.”
Compare that with the version of Southern that we see in this video:
Southern’s assessment of his current life is remarkable.
“If anything, this would be Chapter 2,” he said. “This is page one of Chapter 2. You know, I did my adolesence and my childhood, and now I just got married recently.
“I’ve got the world at my prosthetic feet.”