Jack E. Kemp
You may have seen Noah Galloway, the Army veteran who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq, when he appeared for weeks on the television’s Dancing With The Stars. That appearance, when offered to Noah, almost didn’t happen for a reason many would not expect.
When first contacted by Dancing With The Stars, Galloway informed the show’s producer that as interesting as this was, he would not leave his three young children (two boys and a girl) to spend months in Hollywood rehearsing and appearing on a show. Dancing With The Stars truly considered him a star because he was immediately given the option of having his dancing partner flown to his Alabama home town where she would rehearse with him during the week and they would both be flown to Los Angeles for the show’s competition – and flown back to Alabama for as many times as was necessary as they advanced in the competition’s standings.
At that point Galloway accepted the offer to dance on television. As a motivational speaker, Galloway has talked groups and individuals as varied as second grade students, active duty troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, corporate CEOs and even to Prince Harry – a Royal Army Afghanistan War veteran himself – who created the Invictus Games for the physically challenged. More about Noah and Prince Harry later on…
Noah Galloway was relating stories from his new book “Living With No Excuses” as he stood on the author’s stage at a Barnes and Nobles store just a short walk north of the World Trade Center in New York. It was a fitting location, as Noah enlisted in the Army because of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. That lead to his going to Iraq and having an bomb explosion lead to the loss of one forearm and a leg. It also lead to a complex recovery involving several operations and a stay at Walter Reed.
“I went into Walter Reed at Christmastime 2005 and left at Thanksgiving 2006.”
Galloway challenged himself to recover as quickly as possible but now realizes that he should have stayed a bit longer at Walter Reed to make better use the many services they have for emotional adjustment because after leaving the military hospital, he became depressed at the loss of is identity as an active duty soldier. Yet Galloway had always been physically active and decided to get back to what he knew and loved, being in shape. One of the members of the audience drove down from Vermont to New York to hear him speak and told of his meeting Galloway a few years ago at a Tough Mudder https://toughmudder.com/ obstacle race where the Army veteran told him that his goal in life was to become a physical trainer at his local WMCA in Alabaster, Alabama. In fact, Galloway later got his trainer certification and trains people at that YMCA when he isn’t traveling in his work as a motivational speaker.
But Noah Galloway said at the beginning of his talk that he wrote this book to help both veterans and non-veterans “get through their struggles.” He mentioned that the nature of the depression he experienced was “the big piece of the puzzle that had to be told.” When I asked Noah about the reactions he gets in airports, he replied that in the early years, seeing an amputee and asking them if they were a wounded veteran was new to the traveling public. People just said, “Thank you for your service.”
Nowadays, with the sight of amputee veterans on television shows and even in commercials being a lot more a part of the culture, people still ask Noah if he was wounded in a war but now they look beyond that and add, “You are in better shape than I am!” Interestingly enough, Noah’s father lost a hand in a construction accident many years before and so he saw his dad work construction for decades with only one hand.
And the veteran spoke about the things he learned about artificial limbs. The average adult amputee leading a quiet life will use two of those manufactured limbs in a lifetime. Noah has gone through eight of them in two years. Some petty critics online complained in online communications that Noah is using up devices that would better be given to another amputee. That depressed him a bit and he spoke with doctors about that. They essentially told Noah that he and other very active amputees
are the product testers who advance the state of the art of artificial limb construction and usage for the rest of the world. Although no one said it to Noah, there is a connection between himself and the early Indianapolis race car drivers whose pressing to do more lead to the invention side view mirrors and other safety inventions in all cars.
It was when wrapping up his talk and Question-and-Answer session, Noah mentioned meeting Prince Harry and Vice President Biden, something he could never imagine would have happened a few years before. Noah Galloway mentioned a new goal, namely to bring the Paralympics to greater national attention in the U.S. on our media. He stated that the program gets much more coverage overseas. I cannot verify ratings figures of overseas telecasts of the Paralympics. But I’m willing to say that Noah Galloway and Prince Harry are a team that I wouldn’t bet against in achieving their goals.