Army Sergeant 1st Class Richard Sanchez has endured more serious trials in the last year than most people deal with in a lifetime. But he hasn’t let his challenges get him down. During his third deployment to the Middle East, the infantry platoon sergeant was shot in his right arm. His elbow was shattered and his radial nerve severed. Another bullet grazed his cheek. He earned the Purple Heart.
Just a few months later, Sanchez and wife Heather were riding on a float in a Texas parade honoring wounded veterans when the float was hit by a train. He was able to push his wife to safety, but his back was broken and he had an incomplete spinal cord injury.
Sanchez came to Craig on the recommendation of his case manager. “I loved it at Craig,” he says. “I didn’t have to wear a hospital gown and I didn’t feel like I had been institutionalized.”
During Sanchez’s stay at Craig, he participated in a variety of outings through the Therapeutic Recreation (T-Rec) department, including trips to shop, bowl and go scuba diving.
“Because of T-Rec activities, the first time I was out in the “real world” wasn’t the day I was discharged,” he says. “It gave me confidence because I had nurses and therapists showing me how to maneuver independently out in the community.”
Sanchez was able to return home to his family and is now retired from military service. He hasn’t used his wheelchair in more than four months. He credits his positive attitude, family support, and the knowledge and support of the PTs and OTs at Craig for getting him through his rehabilitation. “It’s been a team effort to get me where I am now,” he says.
“Craig pushes you further than anywhere else would. They have the knowledge and technology to make it happen.”