Army combat medic shares story of resilience after undergoing rehab at Center for the Intrepid

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SAN ANTONIO – Over the past 12 months, more than 1,000 patients have been helped at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, according to officials.

The mission of the center is to provide rehabilitation for amputees and burn victims.

U.S. Army Specialist Christian Avila shared his story about how he ended up at the facility.

“It was dark, it was about maybe midnight, 1 a.m. It was raining, it was muddy. The driver just lost control and the vehicle rolled over. When that happened, I just flew, projected out of the vehicle, landed and then it just landed right on top of me, and I got pinned down,” Avila said. “I hear one of my battle buddies screaming inside, that's my kind of, like, ‘Wake up!’ because technically I'm supposed to take care of them. I’m the medic, so I tried to move to help and I notice that I can't move.

In December 2018, Avila, who is a combat medic, was airlifted to a hospital in Germany. A few days later he was transferred to Fort Sam Houston.

“At the beginning, of course, I couldn't stand. I didn't have my prosthetic or anything. This was fresh. It was very sore,” Avila said, pointing to his amputated leg.

Avila was determined to move forward, so he began physical therapy at the Center for the Intrepid.

"I come in here and the first thing I see is a double amputee climbing that rock wall. I'm like, ‘What? That possible?’ So it's really motivational,” Avila said.

Avila stood out in a good way.

“Even in those early days with excruciating pain, he would smile through it,” said Mark Heniser, a physical therapist at the Center for the Intrepid.

“I guess, in between the environment and when you start seeing your process getting better, the support system here is awesome. So, yeah, I just don’t see a reason not to smile right now,” Avila said.

The facility has physical therapists, mental health professionals and an entire team dedicated to creating prosthetic legs.  

Although there are days that are tougher than others, Avila said he continues to believe in himself.

“It's OK to mourn, of course. It's like losing a brother. It’s something you know. But you just can't stay there. The world doesn't end there. There's so much things that you could do. Don't put yourself down. Just push yourself,” Avila said.

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