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Injured in Iraq, war veteran now pursuing dream

Posted November 11, 2009

— More than 4,400 troops have been wounded in action in Afghanistan and more than 31,500 in Iraq.

For those soldiers, returning to a normal life can be its own battle. That was the case for North Carolina State University sophomore Natasha McKinnon.

Injured in Iraq, war veteran now pursuing dream Injured in Iraq, war veteran now pursuing dream

"Oct. 4, 2005, was the day that changed my life," she said.

Serving as a Fort Bragg soldier in Iraq, the then-23-year-old from Ashtabula, Ohio, was riding in a humvee when it traveled over an improvised explosive device.

"I didn't know I was hurt, right away," she said Wednesday, as the nation honors and remembers those who serve or have served in the United States armed forces. "I looked down, trying to get my weapon, and I saw a pool of blood on the floorboard."

McKinnon survived the blast, but doctors had to amputate her left leg below her knee.

"The first thing that came to mind is, 'How am I going to live?’" she said.

With her mother by her side, McKinnon spent two years learning how to walk again at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"It's different the second time around," she said.

But McKinnon did learn. Now, she's focused on learning something else.

She's a vet who wants to become a vet, and she says she won't let what happened get in her way.

"I'm a huge animal lover," she said. "This injury does not prevent me from pursuing my dream."


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  • just my2cents Nov 12, 2009

    I pray all your dreams come true. As a mom, daughter, grandaughter and niece of Veterans, I know of the sacrifices made, though I myself have never left this country to fight a war. All Veterans who have served our country are heroes and deserve all we can offer.
    And I agree with the above posters, all you ever hear is the negative side of things, glad we have a story with a positve note.

  • discowhale Nov 12, 2009

    I'm a Navy veteran, Cold War, post Viet Nam.

    Thanks to all the veterans, prior to and post my time.

    Thanks to WRAL for getting one right. I criticize then OFTEN for telling the lib MSM side of the War on Terror, and the military in general.

    This young woman is the rule when it comes to those wounded in the military. I know.

    I spent a month at Balboa Naval Hospital once. The few that barked, whined and went, "...woe, is me!!", were the same ones who did that BEFORE they were injured. (and yes, people do get injured when there is no shooting war occurring)

    I saw two guys who were in a hit and run, off duty, jay walking, drunk in Balboa. Neither seriously hurt. They went out in town, got civilian lawyers to get them 100%, permanent disability, because they were in the Navy when the accident happened. They were too "emotionally harmed" to continue.

    Natasha is the rule, jay walkers and whiners usually get the press though.

    Good job WRAL.

  • gcannon Nov 11, 2009

    I really liked this story. As a veteran from the Vietnam era, I certainly admire the courage and determination of this great American. May the good Lord bless her ... she deserves the best that we can offer.

    Gene Cannon
    Wendell, NC