Monday, September 17, 2012

Healing a vet's back, heart and soul

Healing a vet's back, heart and soul
By Jessica Trufant
Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News
Posted Sep 17, 2012

Sgt. Stephen Mandile of Uxbridge had dreams of becoming a firefighter once he fulfilled his obligation with the U.S. Army National Guard.

But those dreams were shattered in June of 2005 when Mandile was seriously injured while deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

"I was the lead vehicle in a convoy driving through Baghdad to bring a prisoner to a court house for a hearing, and there was a car driving erratically trying to get out in front of our convoy, which they knew not to do because we had signs saying not to do it, and not to get too close," Mandile said. "We were going 50 or 60 (mph), and once he caught up he came to a dead stopped, which is the M.O. of suicide bombers. I didn’t have time to do anything besides crash into him, and run the vehicle off the road." Mandile suffered a slew of injuries during the crash – including five ruptured discs, spinal stenosis, damage to the sciatic nerve, radiculopathy in both legs and a traumatic brain injury – and was taken to hospitals in Iraq and Kuwait before returning to Fort Dix, N.J. in Sept. of 2005.

Mandile was given the choice of either waiting up to 18 months to see the medical of board review, or obtaining treatment through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and he choose the latter.
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