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Life might be different but Advocates make the difference

Life might be different but Advocates make the difference

Life might be different but Advocates make the difference
By MaryTherese Griffin, Army Warrior Care and Transition

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Johnathan Holsey says he woke up a different person on November 11, 2004. “You never think it’s your convoy that is going to get hit. This was my turn,” Holsey said of the improvised explosive device that hit his Humvee the day before. “We were in Ramadi on Route Michigan. The same day I got hurt, three other Soldiers were hurt on the same route. We were all delivering supplies to an Infantry unit.” Holsey lost his left leg as a result of the blast forcing him into a different world.

Holsey explained the importance of embracing that different world to the Army Wounded Warrior Advocates attending the Army Wounded Warrior Program annual training in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He says it’s a different world when you’ve experienced a traumatic event, but the difference in handling what comes next for a Soldier can be helped by their advocate.

“Advocating for Soldiers is important. Some Soldiers may not know what Advocates do; make sure they know,” Holsey told the advocates in the audience. Holsey was one of those Soldiers who did not know the responsibilities of an Advocate. He teamed up with the late AW2 Advocate Ayandria Berry and that made all the difference. “If I had a thought, she had an answer,” Holsey said.

The support and encouragement of an advocate Holsey says can be the difference for a Soldier. Berry made that difference by encouraging Holsey in every way, especially with sports. He says advocates know how to engage, encourage and anticipate what their Soldier needs.

Berry and Holsey’s family were always encouraging Holsey to push himself as he adjusted to his new normal. That encouragement led to Holsey running the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C., something he had never done before, just one year after his amputation.

“I could run, but I never ran the Army Ten Miler. I’ve done things that I never thought I would have done since I lost my leg.” In addition to running half-marathons, Holsey also skis and snowboards. Holsey encourages other Soldiers facing trauma to look at their situation from all sides and to not be afraid to open up to others who can help.

“There’s always different ways of doing everything,” Holsey said. “Be honest about the way you are feeling, folks need to know the truth [so they can help].”

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