When I lost my legs I knew I wouldn’t be taking bombs apart in some god forsaken country anymore to pay the bills. My first reaction was to fight. That’s what we do. At the time, 2010, the Marine Corps had just announced that any Marine severely injured in combat would be allowed to stay on active duty till full retirement, barring very few physical or mental conditions that might require constant supervision. In fact, they were parading around a junior Marine who’d become blind and amputated. But I was more than a Marine, as much as I enjoyed and prided myself on being a part of the holy fraternal order of scalawags and roughnecks, I had become more. The EOD community is incredibly small, and exceptionally small in the Corps. With just a few hundred active Marine EOD techs we all knew one another, or of one another. And I had just earned my stripes as a tech in the months before getting blown up, it was the only thing that mattered to me, and I was willing and ready to fight for my place. The first real conversation I had on the subject came when the wounded warrior battalion SgtMaj P came

Into my room. This dude was first class weird, a vegetarian who spoke with a draw similar to Mr. Mackey telling Kyle and Cartman “drug are bad” he came in my room to visit, a sort of, “welcome to the club of limp dick, nub wielding cripple Marines.” But, that wasn’t important to me. And he turned out to be a pretty cool guy. But, I was already laser focused, I knew they wouldn’t want to keep me in EOD and I wanted a promise form every tall stack or brass that walked in my room. Quickly the conversation turned to “and you can even stay in the Corps” like some kind of half assed conflation prize on the price is right. My reaction was simple, and in the EOD field. His response was less than enthusiastic, something like, “well, you see, sometimes a job field is too critical…” But I wasn’t hearing it. Apparently, less than a few weeks form loosing both my legs, almost half my right arm, fusing both wrist, punctured lung, and a set of nuts so swollen they could pass for Ford truck airbags I had developed a few verbal triggers, and unfortunately for Sgt Maj P “you can’t do that” was one of them. The conversation ended with a short argument followed but an abrupt “get the hell out of my room!” That day, in a hospital bed, fired up on morphine and crushed dreams I made my mind up. If the Marine Corps didn’t think the one job with the HIGHEST propensity for getting amputated couldn’t find a place for its severely wounded, it was simply because it hadn’t formally met the hard headed Georgia boy   with a bone to pick and time on his hands.
So that was that, I had made  up my mind. However, before I could set about a path of rewriting Marine Corps policy I knew I had to Prepare myself. Although I’m very proud of my origins, a Georgia High School education wasn’t going to cut it. Fortunately, or so you could day, enough of us had been injured that we had been provided with an “education coordinator” yet another space balls bureaucrat, but she was useful at least, and nice. She connected me to the University of Maryland’s community college; which was hosting classes on campus at Walter Reed. So, as soon as I finished the rigorous routine of Monday, Wednesday, Friday surgeries for the first 6 weeks of recovery, and shipped to Walter Reed for prosthetic rehabilitation, I strolled my happy ass down to the admissions office in my fancy electric wheel chair; complete with joystick controls and a camouflage pouch for my catheter bag. There was just one problem, my left wrist was still pinned in seven places and the whole forearm was castes to the elbow. My right forearm was still numb and unresponsive with rods and pins protruding from multiple places keeping that tendons and nerves in place as we hoped they grew back together. But when was such a technicality going to stop me, I had generals and Sgts Major to piss off and change. Thankfully they allowed really cripple people to bring their primary care taker along to take nots, and the nice badass ladies who’d covered my deployment and recovery from ABC Nightline had bought me dragon voice activation software to write my papers. Game, Set, Match.