Homeland Security AW2 vet to speak at Warrior-Family Symposium
September 12, 2012
WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2012) -- Retired Capt. Alvin Shell, an Army Wounded Warrior Program veteran who now serves as Force Protection Branch officer at the Department of Homeland Security, will be a panelist Sept. 13 at the 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium.
The symposium at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C, provides a forum for expanding the collective efforts of government and non-government organizations to improve the physical, psychological and overall well-being of wounded, ill and injured service members and their families.
Shell, who survived traumatic injuries while stationed in Iraq in 2004, believes that even through the toughest times, a positive attitude, faith and support from family can allow one to accomplish anything.
Even though he is now the heading up a program at the Department of Homeland Security, Shell isn't quick to forget that he once faced a time when he wasn't sure if he would ever work again, or even survive.
On Aug. 31, 2004, while stationed at Camp Victory in Fallujah, Iraq, Shell and his platoon from the 21st Military Police/Airborne came to the aid of a convoy that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. In an attempt to rescue his platoon sergeant, Sgt. Wesley Spaid, who had caught on fire from the explosion, Shell threw dirt, hugged and patted him to try to extinguish the flames. Covered in gasoline, Shell found himself surrounded by fire and realized he needed to run through the flames to escape.
As a result of this traumatic event, Shell suffered severe burns to more than 33 percent of his body, in addition to several other injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, and muscle loss. When he received his medical retirement from the Army, he also received a 100-percent disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but chose to continue to fight to heal and work again because his parents "didn't teach [him] any other way, but to work."
After 18 months of rehabilitation and more than 30 surgeries, Shell knows better than many that the road to recovery can sometimes seem never-ending, but he chooses to share his story with others, even as he continues to heal. He attributes much of his strength to his wife Chilketha, for her unwavering support and love through the toughest times as she continued to care for their three sons and him, "a husband who couldn't feed himself."
"I admire my wife because she is tough as nails," said Shell.
Although he now has a full-time job, he and his wife find fulfillment in spending their spare time attending events, symposiums and speaking to fellow wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, veterans and their families, inspiring them to enter into a new chapter and helping them to heal.
In his speeches, Shell also shares details of the challenges he faced in successfully landing a job after his injury, and how he persuaded others that he could meaningfully contribute in the workplace despite his injuries. He notes how he decided to take the challenge of securing a job by focusing on his abilities rather than his disabilities, and he uses his speeches to inspire wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans to also accept and ultimately conquer this challenge.
Shell also recognizes the importance of reminding employers to make a commitment to hiring veterans.
"When these Soldiers come home, don't forget their sacrifice," he said, "or their commitment to this nation."
The 2012 Warrior-Family Symposium is co-sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America, known as MOAA, and the National Defense Industrial Association, or NDIA.
For more information on career opportunities for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans, e-mail email@example.com.