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Jose “Freddy” Ruiz – Staff Sergeant – US Army

Jose “Freddy” Ruiz was born in 1984, shortly before his family immigrated to the United States. He spent most of his childhood in Dallas, TX, and he graduated from Mesquite High School in 2002. Freddy became the first in his family to serve in the US armed forces when he enlisted in the Army in 2004, becoming a wheeled vehicle mechanic. He was deployed to Iraq twice, once in 2005 and then again in 2008.

For his third tour, Freddy was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment at Ft. Carson, in Colorado, when he deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 to serve in a personal security detail. It would be his final deployment. Freddy, now a staff sergeant, was only in Afghanistan for one month before his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED) on September 16, 2010. The explosion caused Freddy’s vehicle to roll multiple times, and Freddy, alive, but unconscious and severely injured, was the only survivor. The eight years he spent in the army and the career he loved came to a sudden end and he instead had to adjust to an entirely different future.

Freddy was quickly transported to Germany, and then Bethesda Medical Center. His physical injuries were severe. He sustained severe fractures to his arm, leg, hip, and jaw, requiring his jaw to be wired shut for weeks and a metal plate to be installed in his right forearm.  The skin around his leg fracture was so damaged that it required a skin graft.

However, the most lasting damage came from his traumatic brain injury (TBI).  After spending a couple of weeks in a coma, Freddy had to relearn how to walk, talk, and even eat.  Although his physical wounds healed, Freddy struggles with the effects of the TBI daily. Freddy now lives in San Antonio TX with his family and enjoys sports and being outdoors. Despite still adjusting to a new body and personality, Freddy has become well known around his community for his high spirits and unwaveringly positive attitude.

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