Melissa Stockwell was the first female soldier in Iraq to lose a limb when she was injured by a roadside bomb more than eight years ago. Ever since, she has served as an inspiration to other amputees and works tirelessly to help others with similar disabilities stay active, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Stockwell was injured in 2004, and after having to re-learn how to walk she quickly turned her attention toward athletics. She learned how to ski on one leg, picked up swimming, and in 2008 she became the first Iraq War veteran to join the U.S. Paralympic team. She has run marathons and completed 100-mile bike rides, and just recently she signed up for the challenging Iron Man Triathalon.
"Melissa understands what her role is on the planet," her coach, Stacee Seay told the Tribune. "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's success may serve as inspiration to some veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have suffered similar injuries. As of 2011, there were 1,286 vets from both wars who had at least one limb amputated, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics.