Wounded Warrior Meets Life’s Challenges

This is another synopsis from Bob Dotson’s “American Story”. Bob Dotson is an award winning producer of the Today Show. American Story is a collection of some of the strories Bob has covered that he felt deserved more time. This is the story of Iraq War Veteran and Wounded Warrior, Army Staff Sgt. Matt Keil and his family. This is a story of positives and facing life’s challenges and winning. ENJOY

Despite paralysis, Iraq vet is grateful to be a dad – http://www.today.com/id/45164127/ns/today-today_news/#.UVScDRxJMuc

American servicemembers make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of their fellow citizens. They put their lives on the line every day. An Iraqi sniper made Army Staff Sgt. Matt Keil fight for his life, his bullet piercing the soldier’s neck, hitting his spine and collapsing his left lung before exiting through his shoulder. Matt was paralyzed instantly. He lost the use of his legs and most of the use of his arms.

But Keil’s battle to survive was just the first his family would face. And ultimately, their ability to weather the storms would teach them just how wonderful their life is.

Six weeks before Keil left for the frontlines, he married his wife Tracy. He returned to her on a stretcher, unable to move. He was worried. Would his bride still love him? He came right out and asked Tracy. “She looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Of course I love you. You’re stuck with me.’ ”

Doctors told the couple children might be impossible. As Keil continued to recover from his war wounds, the pair forged their own battle against infertility. And they won. Doctors implanted two embryos, and when one split, the result was triplets. The couple was ecstatic.

When the babies arrived seven weeks early, the family again found themselves fighting, and mourning. Their son died. Another son weighed just three pounds, and their little girl was an ounce less. Like their father, they had to fight to survive.

Tracy watched over her babies in the incubator. She was helpless outside the tangle of tubes. “Every scary, small detail that you could imagine a tiny person being put through, they were put through,” she said.

While tiny Matt Jr. would stay in the hospital for more than two months, his sister – stronger and hardier than the little boy – headed home. Her parents named her Faith.

The family continued to fight and the babies prevailed. When Matt Jr. finally joined his family at the home a group of veterans built for them in Colorado, life was calm. The family was and is thriving. Through it all, Matt and Tracy said they never lost hope. “There have been moments when I’ve thought, ‘OK God, what’s going on? What did I do?’ But there is no option of not being successful. So I figure it out. Make it work,” Keil said.

Despite his serious injuries, Keil said he will continue to teach his children to be thankful for the blessings that are, rather than the difficulties that were. “No matter what you’re going through, it could be worse. I know that being a quadriplegic in a chair is not the worst thing that could have happened to me,” he said. “We don’t dwell on the bad moments. We find ways to tackle them and move on.”

For Tracy, having her husband by her side makes the struggle worth it. “Matt’s here. That’s all that matters. He’s part of this family. He’s part of our lives. And he’s the same guy that he was when he left. He’s just got cleaner shoes,” she said.

To read more about this American Story and others by Bob Dotson, check out his book here.