Retired Army Specialist Anthony Farve found hope through hoops, but he knew he needed to get off the bench of depression. He had his left leg amputated after an explosion in a war zone in Iraq several years earlier.
“It’s an everyday battle. I would say I am doing a lot better now than I ever have been. Not going to lie it would be awesome to have two legs and not have to worry about anything. I think keeping the right people around me helps me out a lot and I hope other Soldiers facing adversity will remember that too,” said Farve who reminded us about the St Patrick’s Day in 2007 that changed his life forever.
“My leg was pretty messed up. I guess in my head I figured they would just patch me up and I would go back. I wanted more than anything to go back – I spent two years training with my buddies and then halfway through I’m not there? It was hard,” said the infantryman. The other hard part about not going back was his own father. Sgt. 1st Class Henry Farve was deployed in 2006 at the same time, sometimes at the same location as his son Anthony.
“It was pretty awesome. I didn’t get to do anything with him, I only got to see him after missions. If we were right next to the place where my dad’s motor pool would be, I could see him for a few minutes,” said the younger Farve.
“I always knew my son looked up to me, but I look up to him, many people do. Sure, being deployed together was tough especially for his mom, wife, and his sisters. I had to give them proof of life over the satellite phone and verify that Junior was ok, and he would do the same for me,” said Sgt First Class retired Farve.
“It’s one thing when you are trying to stay alive and keep all your buddies safe but it’s another thing when your dad is there, it’s like dang- I really don’t want anything to happen here,” said the protective son.
They struggled with worry about each other like fathers and sons do. Anthony’s struggles would grow beyond the battlefield. Once back stateside, after multiple leg surgeries and a stay at the Warrior Transition Unit in Washington State, he lived with friends and eventually in his parents’ basement after his divorce, not doing much of anything productive.
“It didn’t hurt when I was drinking, and it got worse, and I couldn’t walk. I tried a few more surgeries and eventually had to amputate my leg.” The leg amputation came in 2014 with a realization that he needed to make serious changes as his health deteriorated. Then he met an adaptive sports athlete who changed his life with wheelchair basketball.
“When I first played, I was really overweight and a friend who is a paraplegic worked with me and trust me he smacked me down, it was humbling and tricky,” said Farve with a laugh. Wheelchair basketball gave him the hope he was lacking. His parents were beyond amazed.
“My wife and I live for our kids. It didn’t matter what Junior had been through, he gained so much weight, he wasn’t healthy, and he was hurting. He didn’t care anymore, and we just encouraged him to come stay with us- it’s not going to be forever, and you will get on your feet. His friend Kevin who introduced him to wheelchair basketball truly helped bring his smile back.”
“After I got my leg amputated, I noticed it was going to be a lot harder to get around without a leg being so heavy. I started to eat right and focus on basketball. I didn’t know how to be physical, being disabled, but wheelchair basketball gave me hope.”
He lost 100 lbs. and by 2016 he made Team Army and went on to compete at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games.
“That was awesome. It was so much fun doing all the different sports. It’s fun to soak up knowledge from other athletes who are great at their sport. Now I have contacts and friends from being on Team Army that I help, and they still help me.”
Farve said accepting help along the way was hard but giving help today is the easiest thing he’s ever done.
“Basketball gave me a purpose to get better and now I feel an obligation to give back and help out more,” said Farve who helped coach wheelchair basketball as a volunteer at FT Riley Kansas.
Today he loves his new life. Farve and his wife and two teenagers live in the Northwest. “My Family is good, we moved to the middle of nowhere in Washington State and we love it! I play for a division one basketball team in San Diego. I also play for a military team in Spokane Washington.”
Recognizing how far the Army Recovery Care Program has grown, Anthony Farve encourages Soldiers to take advantage of opportunities at the SRU. “Try everything- I know the SRU’s offer so much today. We even take Soldiers at the JBLM SRU out surfing- yes adaptive surfing!”
Favre’s father gets emotional when he shares his son’s triumphant return to life. “There is NOTHING my son can’t do. In fact, he does things better on one leg than most people do with two!”
No more sitting on the bench for Anthony Farve. Infact he is “Farve” from being idle these days, and that’s what his message is to anyone facing a life changing event.
“Stay active, find something to be passionate about. I was passionate about being in the Army and when I lost that I felt like I lost everything. Then I got it back when I found adaptive sports and wheelchair basketball. Don’t lose focus and a reason to get up in the morning.”