By Sameria Zavala,Womack Army Medical Center Public AffairsJune 18, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 15, 2016) -- U.S. Army Veteran Spc. Dustin Barr, a native of Jamesville, North Carolina, cannot walk without pain. Yet, he has looked past his injuries to participate in the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games for a second time.
In the three and a half years Barr served, he injured his right and left foot.
"My right foot was injured on a 16K ruck (rucksack) march. I got about five to six miles into it and stomped on a rock the size of three softballs. I heard my ankle roll over and everything cracked and popped," said Barr.
"After that accident, I compensated by wobbling around and ended up twisting my left foot," he said.
After his initial accident, Barr was assigned to a unit in Germany for a year. He began to deal with depression issues and questioned his existence.
"My feet were really bothering me every day. It got to the point where I was having really bad suicidal thoughts, and I ended up seeing a psychiatrist for the first time," Barr said.
In January 2014, he was put on medications that his body did not receive properly and he had three consecutive grand mal seizures within 30 minutes. The first seizure caused him to fall and bang his head on a counter, which caused him to suffer a concussion.
"That [seizure] led to memory loss, high anxiety, depression, sleep insomnia and sleep apnea," he said.
Barr has begun a series of surgeries on both of his feet and may have to consider amputation.
"I've got three artificial tendons and two artificial ligaments in my right foot, my cartilage has been scrapped and my scar tissue pulled out," said Barr. "Next is surgery on my left foot."
Through all of his injuries, Barr looks forward to the games again this year, after competing in 2015. He will be participating in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, track, field, and cycling. He had to sit out from the swimming competition this year, due to his recent foot surgery.
"At the games, I'm just like everybody else and I'm able to be myself," he said. "I feel free. I like it a lot. I am able to push myself a lot harder here than I am at home, where I feel kind of confined. When I'm here, it's go, go, go."
"When you see an athlete with no legs, and they are just as high strung as anybody else in this world, it doesn't even faze them. It's so much motivation and the athletes I'm teamed up with, they motivate me more than anything," said Barr.
Even though Barr has experienced ups and downs, he still maintains a positive attitude toward life.
"Don't let your downfalls in life hold you back," he said. "Let that be more of a reason for you to pick your head up and decide to do something different. Pump yourself up for that next step in life," Barr said.
Barr plans to return home to his family and attend Pitt Community College in Greenville, North Carolina this fall.