With Veterans Day coming up on November 11, I sat down with a very courageous veteran to hear her story. Rachael is a true American hero and I hope her story inspires you as much as it did me.
Rachael Rodgers was an Army combat medic for 5 ½ years and was stationed both in Louisiana and Texas. She left the Army because of an incident that led to the amputation of her left leg. Keep reading to hear what happened to Rachael and see how she’s flourished despite her circumstances.
Bekah: Why did you enlist in the military?
Rachael: I enlisted in the Army at the age of 23 because I wanted to get out of my hometown and see the world.
Bekah: Tell me about what you enjoyed most about being in the military:
Rachael: I enjoyed my job, through it I found a passion for the medical field and helping people. I was blessed to work with some fantastic doctors and physician assistants that taught me so much, things that I would never have experienced in the civilian world. Because of my military experience I decided to go back to school now for a degree in nursing.
Bekah: What was it like to be a combat medic? What types of tasks did you do for your job?
Rachael: I primarily worked in the aid station where I assisted with truly anything the doctors needed help with. This included lots of medical charting, taking vital signs, diagnosing colds and physical injuries, and lots of small procedures.
Bekah: I admire how open you are about your leg amputation. What happened?
Rachael: On December 4th, 2012, I was in the field and a brown recluse spider bit me on my left shin. It did severe damage to the central nerve that runs to the foot, resulting in the loss of function in my foot. After trying physical therapy for six months, with no improvement, the doctor decided to try surgery. Well, that was the start of many long years of limb salvage surgeries, to try and save my leg. Unfortunately, after several years’ worth of surgeries, my leg was too damaged to serve its purpose. The mutual decision between my doctors and I was to amputate my lower left leg (it was the only chance I had at maintaining some activity level on a daily basis).
Bekah: I’m inspired by how active you are despite your physical disability. Tell me about how you’ve overcome your disability and how you stay active.
Rachael: Every day is a challenge for me and I suspect it will always be that way. I have learned that you have to find the humor and joy in even the worst of things. Each day is full of so many new things for me and I subsequently run into obstacles at almost every turn. I have turned those obstacles into mini personal challenges.
Bekah: As you know my son, Finn, is 5 years old. What advice can you give me as a parent on how to teach him to communicate when he notices someone that’s different than him?
Rachael: One of the hardest things for me has been public interaction. I have a tough time when people whisper about me, in front of me. I would rather be approached and asked questions. It always makes my day when a kid runs up to me because they think my prosthetic leg is cool. My biggest piece of advice for teaching kids on how to approach people with a visible disability is to encourage them to ask questions and not stare.
Bekah: With Veterans Day right around the corner, what would you like people to understand about American veterans?
Rachael: Veterans are such an amazing group of people, especially the wounded veterans. As a wounded veteran, you never see yourself being in that position. I truly admire every last wounded veteran, especially our female veterans. Physical injuries seem to be harder for us to accept. In a world that revolves around beauty, we are flawed, sometimes in extreme ways. Help us embrace those flaws, love us, listen to us.
From the bottom of our “harts”, we thank you for your service, Rachael and especially for allowing us to share your story. We’re sending you an H&P Into The Wild turban as a token of our appreciation.
Do you have a military veteran in your life that has inspired you? Tell us about your hero for a chance to win a FREE headwrap!