This week we remember the service of our veterans, who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free. We are grateful to those who gave their all to protect and defend our freedom at the expense of their own safety. The pride that our veterans showed when donning their uniform should be matched in the care we offer them following their service, and to honor them we thought it right to share some stories of their bravery and life after their service. Today we share Lim Innovations employee Tristan Wyatt’s story; a past Veteran and amputee, who gave his all in battle and now works to provide the best prosthetic care to other Veterans with limb loss.
I have been a veteran and an amputee for over 12 years with the former identity quickly leading to the latter after a vicious summer in Fallujah in 2003. Over the past few years, the two identities for the most part, have been synonymous with each other as a part of my psyche. When I look at my artificial limb, I cannot help reminiscing on the long hot days in Iraq and the terrifying nights.
Similarly, my thoughts on Veterans Day always seem to include my amputation and artificial limb. Recently, I have noticed that the American psyche has connected these two identities as well in many forms. Around town, I cannot help but notice non-profit organizations’ posters and commercials calling to assist wounded service members often coupled with an amputee veteran.
Social media provides artists like photographer Michael Stokes countless ways to introduce the American mind to the idea of amputation, war and art in an intimate and inventive way. My recent favorite example is a less tasteful meme that was recently posted to my Facebook page by a fellow veteran. It reads, “I am not handicapped. It is my enemy that is handicapped, since my leg is now bulletproof,” printed over a picture of an American solider in a desert, in full combat load and sporting an artificial limb.
Naturally there are a lot of feelings that come up when I see the public making these connections. However, I must admit, I couldn’t help but feel a little pride to see the resilience, dynamism, inventiveness and humor (often at times in the face of horror), that makes our military great and lend itself to another kind of important mission.
This mission is one of awareness, unity and education of limb loss and artificial limb use. On this Veterans Day I raise my glass to our Veterans, especially those bringing awareness to amputation, and to those in the prosthetic industry that also embrace inventiveness, dynamism, resilience and humor. I was fortunate to have served in an organization that embraced those values then and I am fortunate to be a part of an organization that embraces those values now. Cheers, and happy Veterans Day!