CINCINNATI - American men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan put their lives on the line for their country every day.
But often it takes a different kind of courage when they return home and make the transition back to civilian life, especially when they're dealing with the wounds of war.
Carl Schneider will never forget May 11, 2005, the day a roadside bomb in Iraq blew up his life.
The explosion burned 15 percent of Schneider's body, mostly on his face and arms.
"Initially after my injury, I had no range of motion in my hands, so I was almost in a fixed position," Schneider said.
Since the explosion, it's been a long journey to normalcy, including rehab and surgery. Schneider said he has had 16 or 17 surgeries, so many he's not sure of the number.
And that journey led Schneider to the campus of Xavier University.
Xavier's Director of Veterans Affairs, Nate Davis, is also a former Marine. He knows from experience that the transition to civilian life can be difficult.
"It's tough learning to be an individual again when you've spent so much time depending on everyone else and them depending on you," Davis said.
So with assistance from Xavier and the post-9/11 GI Bill, Schneider is working on a master's in occupational therapy, so he can help other people with disabilities or injuries learn to be independent.
"I just want to help," Schneider said. "Somebody spent time and helped change my life. I want to do that to somebody else."
And Schneider is very close now to being able to make a difference in other lives. He has a co-op at Novacare Rehab in Eastgate, and gets his master's degree in December. He's on his way with help from a new community of friends that is there for veterans returning from war.
"We don't need special treatment, we just need consideration and to be treated as adults, not something out of the ordinary. Just respect," Davis said.
Online resources for Veterans:
To find a VA Hospital: http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp?isFlash=1&f=1
To find A Vet Center Readjustment Center: www.vetcenter.va.gov/
To connect to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The non-profit has resources geared toward returning Veterans including soldiers that have been wounded, vets having trouble finding work, and the latest information on the GI Bill: www.iava.org
Wounded Warrior Project helps who have been hurt in battle as well as their families: www.woundedwarriorproject.org
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