By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom
The best part of supporting the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) for the last three years has been meeting AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Families and listening to their stories. This week at the AW2 Symposium I will meet the most amazing people on Earth and be a better person for it.
One such person is 2011 AW2 Veteran and Symposium delegate Ice Murry. Murry lost her vision in one eye due to a retinal detachment while deployed in Germany, and her other eye may do the same. Doctors told her she was one in a million who experience this type of vision loss. She also suffers from foot and knee issues and had a gastric bypass, which all cause additional medical challenges. Nevertheless, she is not letting it lessen her resolve or slow her pace.
“I don’t have time to pout,” said Murry. “I think about those Soldiers who didn’t come back, I think about God, and I think about being with my kids. I focus on the present. I see my kids—blessings that others may not get.”
She doesn’t waste a second thinking about complete vision loss, She doesn’t think about the pain and medical complications she has day in and day out. She is keenly aware of what could have been and is thankful of what is—she can make a difference.
Murry is a mother of five, a full-time Air Force civilian employee, and an online graduate student. One of her children has special needs and three children suffer from severe asthmatic attacks. She took her job in a different state than her husband and mother for a better quality of life for her children. Every night, after helping her children with their homework, she works on her online courses to finish her master’s in human resource management. She plans to continue her education and complete a doctorate program.
“I hold my children to the same standards I hold myself to,” she said. “I let my children see my grades and expect them to work hard. My mother and the Army gave me the values and dedication to do what I do now. I sacrifice for my kids so they don’t have to.”
I kept asking myself, “When does she sleep?” Any parent is a master of juggling a billion things at a time—something I find amazing and admirable. Murry handles it all in stride with a big smile on her face. Her children require frequent doctor’s visits and hospital stays. Yet she still finds the time to instill in them the importance of education by ensuring they succeed, while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average to boot.
On top of all she does on a regular basis for her Family, here she is with her mother this week to support the AW2 Symposium to help make things better for the Soldiers, Veterans, and Families that follow.
“A lot of people are in my situation or worse,” said Murry. “I am happy I signed up for the Symposium to voice my opinions and make a change—it’s priceless. Whether or not these changes help me, I put others before myself. I know these changes are going to impact lives and that has true meaning for me.”
Each story is unique, with ups and downs that could make anyone crumble if faced with the same challenges. But for those who outdare what they have been dealt, with love and support from their Families, they can embrace the future of endless possibilities. In the hearts of Soldiers and Veterans rests the everlasting value to enrich the lives of so many.