Servicemembers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Warrior Transition Battalion, Walter Reed Medical Center listened to Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory D. Gadson speak about resiliency, courage and selfless service Nov. 21.
Gadson spoke about the night he was injured in Iraq, his emotions when learning he would lose his legs and how he had to stop asking himself "why me?" in order to fully accept his situation.
November is Warrior Care Month, so Gadson visited because of the inspiration he could provide the wounded Soldiers.
"I went to Walter Reed a couple months ago and came to some recognition that I was also able to make a difference," said Gadson. "So, I decided I would go every month. We have common experiences; I'm just a little further on the time line."
Accepting their situation is the first thing wounded Soldiers have to do to start the recovery process, according to Gadson.
"One thing I understand is we can never go back; you can only go forward in life," said Gadson. "The only way you can do that is to truly accept what has happened to you."
Gadson opened up about his injuries, telling the Soldiers he was more worried about potentially losing the use of his right hand than losing his legs. Gadson is a photographer in his spare time and was afraid he wouldn't be able to continue the hobby if he lost the use of his hand.
"Everybody thought I was crying because half my body was missing," said Gadson. "But, it was because I didn't know if I was ever going to be able to pick up a camera."
Like many, Gadson initially struggled with this situation, not wanting to ask others for help, and admitted feeling sorry for himself.
"I remember not wanting to fall down because I would be embarrassed," said Gadson. "I was a college athlete, and I could do everything I wanted to do. All of a sudden I had to have help, and what a humbling experience to have to ask for help."
Gadson's faith is what ultimately allowed him to accept his situation and realize there is no shame in asking for help. He also shared a surprising feeling with the HHC Soldiers.
"You could put the person that did this in front of me, give me a loaded weapon and I would put it down and walk away," said Gadson. "That's when I knew I truly accepted my situation."
Sgt. 1st Class Brenda Miller, the HHC's acting first sergeant enjoyed the colonel's speech because she could see the characteristics of a Soldier in his story.
"Listening to him speak, you see all the characteristics of a Soldier: courage, selfless service. Seeing how he's recovered is very inspiring," Miller said.
Miller was inspired listening to Gadson speak about his faith because she said that same belief drives her.
"Sometimes we ask ourselves, 'Why me?' But, we should be asking ourselves, 'Why not me?'" said Miller. "God uses us to be an example to others to show we can do anything we make up our minds to do. We all have a plan. Sometimes, we may go through tough times, but it's to help other people."
Gadson, having achieved so much despite being a double-amputee, is inspiring to Sgt. 1st Class Cedric King who is also a double-amputee. King was injured in Afghanistan on June. 25 and has wanted to meet Gadson since arriving at Walter Reed.
"Someone told me the other day there was a double-amputee in a movie, so I saw the movie," said King. "I heard he was close by, so I wanted to meet him."
King took to heart Gadson saying he refers to himself as challenged, not disabled, and saying he has hyper-ability, since he has continued to accomplish despite being a double-amputee.
"I never heard anyone say that," said King. "So, maybe I'm the one with more ability because I'm doing more with less."
King has already overcome some adversity since being injured. He recently had an opportunity to meet the Baltimore Ravens, but was told he would have to use his push wheel-chair if he wanted to go to the practice. Since King had not used his push wheelchair, he had to learn in order to attend the practice.
"I was told I can bring my power chair, but they had nowhere to put it," said King. "I got to the van and started grabbing handles and pulled myself into the van. I stopped wondering how this thing could beat me and figured out how I could go to the practice."
An Airborne Ranger at the time of his injury, King plans on serving 20-years because "I made a commitment to do 20 years, so I'm going to do it."
King wants to compete in another David E. Grange, Jr. Best Ranger Competition along with staying on active duty. He competed in four before being injured and wants to complete a fifth one to demonstrate there are no limits to what a person can do.
"I want people to look at me and say 'If he can compete in a Best Ranger Competition with prosthetics, I can get off the couch and go exercise,'" said King. "I want to do another Best Ranger Competition to prove to everyone you can do whatever you set your mind to do."
Accepting your situation and understanding you can't control everything in life is another thought Gadson wanted the HHC and wounded Soldiers to take from his experience.
"The fallacy in life is we think we are in control and when things don't go the way we planned we take it personal," said Gadson. "Don't worry about what you can't control because there is so much you are not in control of."