Double Amputee Takes Charge Of Wounded Warrior Program
(July 18, 2010)
Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, a West Point graduate, lost both of his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007. Despite nearly losing his life, Gadson went on to complete two graduate degrees and recovered with assistance from the Wounded Warrior Program, which he is now responsible for.
||WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 14, 2010)
The U.S. Army
Wounded Warrior Program gained a new director Tuesday -- one who has
a lot in common with those he'll be leading.
Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, a West Point graduate, lost both of his
legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007. Despite nearly losing his
life, Gadson went on to complete two graduate degrees and recovered
with assistance from the Wounded Warrior Program, which he is now
The Wounded Warrior Program, nicknamed AW2, is the official Army
program that assists and advocates for the most severely wounded,
ill, and injured Soldiers, veterans, and their families.
"It's all about the Army making good on its promise to never leave a
fallen comrade," said Brig. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, commanding general
for the Warrior Transition Command, which AW2 falls under.
Gadson replaced AW2 director Col. James S. Rice, who spent three
years at the post. Jokingly, Rice handed Gadson his Blackberry
smartphone during the handover ceremony.
"I think having been wounded and having grown up in the AW2 program,
it's given me a certain lens that not many have had ... I have that
patient perspective and hopefully I can communicate those
experiences to make the organization better," Gadson said.
Gadson made a splash in national media in 2008 when the New York
Giants adopted him as a good-luck charm and source of inspiration,
taking them all the way to the Super Bowl.
Gadson, who played football at West Point with Giants wide-receiver
coach Mike Sullivan, received a visit from Sullivan during his
recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. When asked if there was
anything he needed, Gadson asked Sullivan to see the Giants play
when they came to Washington. When the Giants came to town, Sullivan
took him up on his request and asked Gadson to say a few words to
the team before the game. They won, breaking the Giants out of a
losing streak. |
Gadson continued to attend Giants games and motivate the players all
the way up to the Super Bowl, which Gadson and his family were
invited to attend. The Giants called him their inspiration, but
Gadson said he was the one who felt honored to be included as part
of the Giants' team.
Since then, Gadson has also been recognized for being the first
person to receive the latest version of battery-powered "bionic"
prosthetic knees, called Power Knees.
Cheek, who had advocated for Gadson to replace Rice in the position,
was emotional during the change-of-authority ceremony.
"Wow, what a day for the Army," Cheek said choking back tears,
"because the Army Wounded Warrior Program brings home today one of
their own. What a great message that sends ... it tells our wounded
warriors that 'if it's possible for him, it's possible for me.'"
Gadson said he is honored and humbled to be selected, yet maintains
that he plays a small part in a bigger picture.
"This is not about me, this is an opportunity to continue to serve
those who have made huge sacrifices for our nation, and we owe that
to them," Gadson said. "If I allow myself to think about it, I can
become emotional, because I know where I was three years ago, and
this certainly wasn't on the horizon at that point for me."
Article and photo by Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
Army News Service
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