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My Story

By Rodney Robinson, Army

Writing Type: Prose

Hello. My name is Rodney Robinson, and I am a war veteran. I grew up in Clarksdale, Miss., and I moved to the south side of Chicago when I was about seven. I served in the Army for a total of five years. I would say that it was the best five years of my life. I am a peacetime veteran, to be exact. I loved the Army with a passion!

It was a great experience for me. I love to travel. It is my favorite thing to do in the whole world. Traveling is a passion that I have committed my life to do; I love every second of it. The Army not only gave me a great opportunity to serve my country, but it enabled me to travel the world. While I was serving, Germany was my favorite place.

If I could have, I would have stayed in the military- it was great for me! My rank was a Specialist 5. I loved basic training; it was such a great experience. I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m., and I did an Army crawl to breakfast. This was tough, but I got my exercise. After breakfast, we put on our boots and gear and were ready to start the day. We started with a 15-mile march, carrying 30 pounds of gear on our backs. Although it was hard, this was great exercise.

One thing that I absolutely hated while serving was having people boss me around. As a child, I thought that I was invincible. I thought no one could touch me or tell me what to do. It was sad, but all I cared about was myself. However, after spending five years in the Army, I learned a great deal about myself. I not only learned to respect the people around me, but I also learned to listen to what they had to say.

Unfortunately, I was in a car crash. I was off-duty, when this terrible tragedy in my life took place. I was driving from North Carolina to Richmond, Va. I fell asleep, and when I woke up I was at Walter Reed Army Hospital inside a CAT scan machine, trying to figure out where I was. I was told that I had crashed into a tree; my head and neck jolted forward and broke my neck. I also injured many other parts of my body. I do not remember much about it. It was one of the most horrible moments of my life. I had surgery and became a quadriplegic, as a result of this accident. At the time of my injury, I was grateful for my family, friends and support group.

All in all, my experience in the Army was a good one. I would have liked to have served for a long time, but unfortunately, because of my injury, I was not able to. I believe that not being able to serve full-time made me feel deprived. When I got home, I went into a state of depression. I was suicidal, bitter, and angry after my injury. Now, I am happy here at Hines V.A. Hospital, and I enjoy visiting my family every chance I get.

I have been living my life as a quadriplegic since the age of 22; this year I will be 50. I have enjoyed doing a lot of things. I took college courses at Kennedy-King Junior College, because transportation for disabled students was available. I also took telecourses at Triton Community College. I became a salesman for Amway, a board member and liaison/advocate for ADA, and a volunteer social worker at Hines, volunteering for more than 1,000 hours. There are trips for dinners given by the American Legion Auxiliary, and I have been adopted by the local Elks Club. I have been a medal winner at the Hines wheelchair games, where I competed in bowling, the obstacle course, and the 40-yard dash.

I have been challenged by pressure sores for the last four or five years. This has limited my wheelchair time. For the last few months, I have been confined to my bed.

The Lord has gotten me through these troubled times: He is faithful and keeps His promises. I can do nothing without Him, and I know that He gave His Son for me, as well as for the rest of the world. This faith and prayer get me through every day. There are things I can do in my bed, like read the Bible. If I put God above all things, I know I will have patience and nothing will go wrong. I am thankful for Veterans’ Voices as a vehicle for my story.

Notes: Writing Aide: Alex Sharrin & Cary Confino Typist: Pat Kranzow

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