By Tania Meireles, WTC Stratcom
“I want to give back to the Soldiers who fight for my freedom and sacrifice their life for me,” said AW2 Soldier CPL Kendra Coleman about her future.
At 20-years-old, she knew she wanted to fight in the war on terrorism and joined the Army on July 25, 2007. She served with the 173D Special Troops Battalion, part of the 173D Airborne Brigade Combat Team as a military police (MP) officer and paratrooper. She deployed to Afghanistan on November 19, 2009, and her job was to train Afghan police and keep the local village of Charkh safe.
On May 11, 2010, she was clearing a village, she recalled, “I was hugging a wall to clear a corner, and after I cleared the corner I looked down. That’s when I saw a randomly placed pile of tires. I could feel the evil in the air.”
An improvised explosive device (IED) immediately exploded and she was knocked to the ground. “I knew I was hit,” she said. “I reached down to my left leg pocket to grab my tourniquet. My pocket wasn’t there, just the remaining pieces of what was my left leg.”
She is currently assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit and receives care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and Brooke Army Medical Center. “WRAMC has given me my life back,” she said. “The medical care I have received here at WRAMC has been phenomenal.” Now using a prosthetic leg, she said, “I almost feel like me again.”
One of the highlights of her recovery was participating in a snowboarding program. “I never thought I would snowboard again, but I did it,” she said. “I got back up on my board—it was an amazing feeling of achievement.”
With the assistance of AW2 Community Support Network member Sentinels of Freedom, she plans to attend college. “They provided me a four-year scholarship to the school of my choice, all expenses paid including living expenses,” she said.
Coleman wants to attend Georgia Institute of Technology to earn a master’s in prosthetics and work with other wounded warriors at an Army Military Treatment Facility. She hopes to motivate other wounded warriors to never give up, stating, “Don’t let the enemy determine your future—improvise and overcome.”