Wounded warrior takes on adventure outdoors

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Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 9:24 am

Treated to weekend of hunting, fishing

Wounded warrior Zachary Stinson is pretty nonchalant about his war wounds.

Afterall, he can walk with the help of stainless steel prosthetics, he can get around pretty quickly in a wheelchair, and he enjoys a fulfilling life with his wife Tesa and toddler daughter Olivia in Chambersburg, Pa.

And every once in a while, he gets a bit of grateful hospitality from such American patriots as the volunteers with the Semper Fi Community Task Force and Venturi Aerospace, who brought him to North Alabama last weekend for a few days of fishing and deer hunting.

“I just enjoy getting out and doing things outdoors,” said Stinson, a Marine sergeant. “It’s better than sitting at home. I really enjoy things like this.”

Stinson was unable to attend the annual hunting and fishing weekend hosted for wounded warriors in November by the Semper Fi Community Task Force and Camp OutAmongEM in New Hope. So, volunteers planned another event just for him and local wounded warrior Lance Cpl. Kendall Bane over the three-day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

“This really is a good weekend because we are at the peak of deer hunting season,” Steve Statler, of Camp OutAmongEM, said. “We are glad to do this for him.”

Statler and Stinson share a special bond. They are from the same hometown area in Pennsylvania. Statler was Stinson’s chaperone throughout his weekend in Alabama.

Stinson, 23, lost both legs in November 2010 in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when his squad was checking for civilian casualties after a firefight. He stepped on a pressure-plate improvised explosive device and was thrown 10 to 20 feet from the blast.

He was one of 202 U.S. combat troops to have at least one limb amputated in 2010, according to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. That number increased to 248 in 2011.

Stinson’s injuries, which also included the loss of parts of his hands, required more than two dozen surgeries and about two years of recovery and rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He has worked briefly as an intern at the Defense Logistics Agency in New Cumberland, Pa. But now that internship is complete and Stinson is looking for something a bit more challenging, despite his handicap.

“It was a desk job and that was really too boring for me,” the avid outdoorsman said. “I need something where I can be more physically active. I need to be outside, if possible.”

He is willing to try anything. He is determined not to allow his handicap get in the way of a job opportunity, or with enjoying life.

“There’s nothing I can do about my injuries,” he said. “So, I’ve got to keep going. It’s either that or roll over and die, and I’m not willing to do that.”

While at Walter Reed, Stinson spent his free time talking with other wounded warriors, sharing his story with anyone who asked and looking forward to a life outside the hospital.

“I just keep on going on. I liked visiting with the guys,” he said. “I have no problem sharing my story. If people ask me about it, I have no problems talking to them about it.”

Stinson is like many of the other determined wounded warriors who have visited Camp OutAmongEM.

“All service people have made some kind of sacrifice,” Statler, the camp’s owner, said. “If they deployed in theater, they have their own story of sacrifice and their family’s story of sacrifice. This is our way of thanking them for what they have done for us.”

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