Tempered Steel: A Way to Breakdown Burn Stigma

By Luana Schneider, AW2 Mother

For Luana Schneider (center) creating an opportunity for the public to interact with Tempered Steel wounded warriors will help break burn stigma

Editor’s Note: CaringBridge is a participant in the AW2 Community Support Network.

While at the AW2 Symposium, everyone was very interested in our brand new non-profit that we were starting: Tempered Steel, The Stories Behind the Scars.

We decided to co-found Tempered Steel after my son Scott was seriously wounded and disfigured in Iraq in November 2006. Our first hand experience in handling the responses to Scott’s injuries from civilians and military alike, compelled us to break down the barriers between wounded and disfigured Veterans and those who only see their scars. Tempered Steel’s goal is to exchange fear for enlightenment by exposing the very real human stories behind the wounds of war.

In deciding to co-found Tempered Steel, we contacted other severely wounded military members and asked for their participation and involvement. The response was overwhelmingly, “YES.” Our severely injured military members have had to learn how to deal with the public’s perception on who they are on nothing more than a glance from a stranger. As these wounded explained, “they are in essence, still the person they were before the injuries… on the inside.” Each of them feel they had not fundamentally changed. The only difference was the way they looked and how the public now viewed them.

Each disfigured hero, in their own way, has had to learn how to function in a society that in many ways has shunned them or are even outright horrified at the mere sight of these wonderful heroic men and women. Through the photo introspective and videography of these wounded warriors, Tempered Steel will reintroduce society to the stories behind the scars. These wounded warriors from the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars allowed the photographer and videographer to share in their vulnerability, strength, humor, and adaptability. The very personal glimpses into the eyes of these military heroes will bring about a greater compassion and empathy that these injured heroes greatly desire from their communities. By exposing their wounds with great humility, they desire to open a dialogue between the disfigured and disabled world and the communities they live in.

Our wounded warriors will be talking to schools, community groups and at public functions. They will talk not only about their injuries and how the perceptions of others make them feel, but also will also teach individuals to treat others with disabilities and disfigurements the same as they would like to be treated. We plan on working diligently to have our seriously wounded military members play a vital role in their communities.

If you  would like to learn more, please visit: http://www.TemperedSteelInc.org

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