Local News

Injured in Iraq, war veteran now pursuing dream

Posted November 11, 2009 4:04 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2009 6:54 p.m. EST

— 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.

"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."