Marine Special Operations Officer Derek Herrera was leading his team on patrol in Afghanistan in 2012 when he was shot in the spine by a sniper.
He was paralyzed from the chest down and was forced to rely on a wheelchair to get around. He had a grueling recovery, which included six months of intense physical therapy at a veteran’s hospital in Florida.
He medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2014, and was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Bronze Star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Since then, he has received a Master’s of Business Administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He also spent a lot of time researching spinal cord injuries, and has even founded his own company called Spinal Singularity that designs devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease.
Although Herrera is paralyzed, he looks back at his incident in a positive light.
“I am not the least bit sad, bitter, or angry. I feel content, excited, and anxious because I still have the opportunity to achieve goals I have set for myself,” he said. “Every day is an opportunity for me to do something lasting and meaningful. Every day I think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and no longer have the opportunities that I do.”
“The past few years have not been easy, but I have found a new cause that I am as passionate about pursuing as I was while leading Marines and Sailors in the Special Operations Community,” he continued. “I get up every day excited. I get out of bed knowing the problems I am trying to solve and the impact I hope to have on people’s lives.”
Recently, Herrera stood from his wheelchair for the first time, in front of his four-year-old twin sons. His sons were in absolute awe watching their dad get up and were rooting for him to take a step.
Watch this amazing moment in the video below:Whizzco