Operation Tribute to Freedom

OTF Soldier Story for May 16, 2011 - Pfc. Joshua Bullis

Private First Class Joshua Bullis

Current Unit: Warrior Transition Unit at the Naval Medical Center San Diego
Current Position: Wounded Warrior in Transition
Component: Active Army
Current Location: San Diego, Calif.
Hometown: Phoenix, Ariz.
Years of Service: 1

Eight months ago, while on a routine foot patrol through an Afghan village, Pfc. Joshua Bullis stepped on a buried improvised explosive device (IED) and sustained significant injuries. Though still recovering at Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), Bullis has his sights set on victory this week as he competes in the rifle standing and rifle prone shooting events at the second annual Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I chose to compete at the Warrior Games mainly because I thought it would be something fun to do,” he said. “I want to show myself and other people that just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you can’t still accomplish great things.”

For Bullis, the competition marks the end of a rigorous training program that he has followed in addition to his ongoing recovery and rehabilitation process.

“Having the opportunity to train for the Warrior Games has helped me mentally, because I know that I will have the chance to do some stuff that I have not done since I was injured,” he said. “I want to do well, but I’m also looking forward to just going out there and having a good time. Just being there is a great step for me.”

In April 2010, Bullis deployed to the Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan with the 595th Sapper Company, 2nd Engineer Battalion. As combat engineers, Bullis and the other Soldiers in the unit were responsible for constructing roads and bridges and clearing routes, which made it possible for other troops to travel throughout the region.

Bullis formed a tight bond with his brothers in arms and credits them with saving his life when he stepped on the buried IED during a routine dismounted patrol mission.

“When I was hit, my fellow Soldiers used their trained combat skills to stop the bleeding and get the medevac quickly in order to save my life,” he said.

As a result of the blast, both of his legs were amputated above his knee, as was his left arm above the elbow. Initially following the incident, Bullis spent a week at a hospital in Germany before moving on to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

After more than two months of treatment at Walter Reed, Bullis transferred to NMCSD, in order to be closer to family while he continues to heal.

“My biggest goal is to heal,” he said. “I have been walking a little bit with my prosthetic legs recently and I hope to become fully independent as quickly as possible.”

Though it has been a long road to recovery for Bullis, he is thankful for the medical care that he has received.

“I am so grateful for the Warrior Transition Unit here in San Diego. I couldn’t ask for better help,” said the Purple Heart recipient. “I have to give credit to all the Wounded Warrior companies around the country for doing such a fantastic job with the Soldiers that come home.”

Once his recovery is complete, Bullis will return to his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., as he has received a scholarship to attend Grand Canyon University. He plans to earn a business degree and eventually own his own business.

But before the young Soldier returns to the classroom, he hopes to have success at the Warrior Games.

“I can’t wait for the Warrior Games,” he said. “I’m going for the same reason as everyone else–to compete and have fun.”

To learn more about the Warrior Games, please visit http://www.usparalympics.org/pages/8330 and http://www.wtc.army.mil/about_us/warriorgames.html. Additionally, to learn more about the Warrior Transition Command and its commitment to adaptive sports, please visit http://wtc.armylive.dodlive.mil/.

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