Local News

NC veteran finds voice after explosion ends military career

Posted October 20, 2017 11:44 a.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2017 7:37 p.m. EDT

A North Carolina veteran was recognized nationally for his service in the military, but now he's being honored internationally for what he's doing afterward.

Lifting weights is a part Staff Sergeant Tim Payne's daily routine, but he said lifting up others is his calling.

“To be able to go up there and speak to these different people and share lessons learned, it feels very rewarding," Payne said.

Payne served in the army for 11 years until 2014 when he was injured so severely that he was forced to retire.

"Next thing you know, boom, I get blown up, and I went flying backwards—I knew exactly what happened," Payne said.

The explosion took both of his legs and the world that he had come to know. To survive, he’d have to go through 120 surgeries and 100 blood transfusions.

Payne was honored with a Purple Heart and numerous other military awards, but he said he began to struggle with PTSD and medication addiction.

“Not everybody wants to listen to my story and not everyone wants to understand the things we’ve gone through because everyone is living in their own little life," Payne said.

A few years ago, Payne decided to turn his life around and dedicated his talents to motivating and mentoring other disabled veterans. Through his program, Chosen Leader, he’s been recognized by two presidents, and he’s won numerous gold medals at the international Invictus Games.

But after his military service and all the awards, Payne said inspiring others is his most important duty.

“Now, I’m an injured veteran," Payne said. "I don’t want to screw this up because everything that I’ve learned carried me through all the situations I’ve been in before, and I want to continuously portray that example."

It’s because of that military training that Payne said he is now able help other veterans adapt and overcome any challenge that they face.