WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT DISABILITY PRIDE?
"I am passionate about Disability Pride for deeply personal reasons. Disabilities come in many forms, both seen and unseen. They all have significant impact on people, their families, and the larger global community.
My personal experiences have been profound. I deployed as a United States Army general, trauma and critical care surgeon to Afghanistan in 2006. It was an honor for me to care for service members, afghan civilians and help build surgical capability in Afghanistan, including the establishment and first cases of laparoscopic surgery. My life changed forever in on April 11th that year after a school bombing lead to many fatalities and significantly wounded children and teachers. I personally cared for most of them, including a 7-year-old boy name Najib. After 2 weeks of multiple surgeries and complications, his injuries were ultimately insurmountable and as the lead surgeon, I had to let him pass. Several days later, on May 3rd I was asked to take several severely injured service members to Landstuhl Medical Center as the medical escort. During the combat medevac mission, I was severely injured, when, during turbulence, a heavy patient litter fell on my head and neck, leaving me with a cervical spinal cord injury and numerous permanent injuries. Ultimately, I was medically retired from the Army and my clinical surgical career came to a premature end. I have daily reminders of that experience through arm weakness, the need for CPAP to treat sleep apnea, and some degree of chronic pain. Because of my experiences, as well as in flight injuries, I am not in any way ashamed to say I have PTSD and work regularly to keep that at bay.
Tragedy aside, I also believe that as one window closes, another one opens. Through love, kindness, support of my family and community, I was able to slowly recover and recommit to my personal mission of helping improve the human condition through healthcare by entering the world of medical devices. For the last 14 years, I have now been serving as a medical executive and helping patients by guiding companies to deliver products that help them. My loss has turned to passion and my passion fuels my purpose. I am grateful every day."
WHY DID YOU JOIN THE INTERABILITIES COLLEAGUE AFFINITY NETWORK (CAN)?
WHY WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO BECOME ALLIES FOR THE DISABLED COMMUNITY?
"I believe everyone has the ability to contribute and support the world around them while enriching themselves. The greatest love we can show one another is to listen, understand, empathize and support. It’s important for us to create opportunities to contribute, so accommodations, roles, acknowledgement, inclusivity enables all of that. It’s important for us to create opportunities for everyone to contribute. By being an ally, the environment will be protective, supportive and enabling. By advocating for necessary accommodations, creating ideal roles, offering public acknowledgement, and leading with inclusivity enables all of that. For my part, my heart, physical and virtual doors are always open!"