Army veteran Melissa Stockwell was the first female soldier to lose a limb while serving in Iraq, and now the 32-year-old has become an inspiration and a source of encouragement for other injured veterans returning home, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Stockwell lost most of her leg, the remaining is now a six-inch stump that she has nicknamed "Little Leg." She usually dresses it up in red, white and blue, and she now can't imagine living without her "little leg" – she has done quite a bit with it. According to the news outlet, since her injury, she has won three consecutive paratriathlon world championships, run marathons, skied and raced 267 miles across Alaska in the longest wheelchair and handcycle race in the world. Her next venture, the Ironman in Arizona, includes 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
As if this wasn't enough, Stockwell makes a point to encourage others in her situation to become more physically active and social. She helps fit veterans in the U.S. with new limbs and also co-founded the triathlon training group for people who have disabilities, Dare2Tri.
"Melissa understands what her role is on the planet," her coach, Stacee Seay, national manager for TrainingBible coaching and the head coach for Dare2Tri, told the news source. "Her injury does not define her, but it certainly, certainly makes her who she is today. She has taken what has happened to her and turned everything about it into a positive."
Stockwell is not alone in inspiring others to get moving. According to the news channel WTOP-TV, Sgt. Monte Bernardo, a triple amputee, got the help of Army Reserve Capt. Tammy Phipps, an occupational therapist, to make an exceptionally speedy recovery. Due to both of their attitudes and ambition, Bernardo will be driving just four months after his injuries. He was also walking just 47 days after he lost his legs and his left hand.
There are 6,144 American military personnel who have lost a limb in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these individuals are more at risk to become obese and experience pain and fatigue on top of their disability. It is important that these military personnel are active as soon as possible to prevent these secondary conditions.