Saturday, June 29, 2013

Army combat medic, now double amputee, fights to heal

Pa. soldier is in the fight of his life
The (State College, Pa.)
Centre Daily Times/AP
Published: June 29, 2013
Morgen Hummel helps her son, Sgt. Adam Hartswick, lay on a table during a physical therapy session at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sgt. Adam Hartswick grimaces. His upper-arm muscles swell as sweat beads on his forehead.

This exercise, he's pressing a lot of weight — his own.

Having inched out of his wheelchair and across a therapy table, he pushes himself up onto a small perch of twin yoga cushions, and straightens his torso.

He's ready for another workout drawing him closer to new legs, ready to squeeze some more strength from his 22-year-old heart.

"There you go, buddy, yeah," his father, Sean Hartwsick, says.

It's Thursday afternoon in the Military Advanced Training Center gym within the vast Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Everyone who is here, grunting and yelling over the pop and country music in the background, was robbed while in uniform. Their limbs, their past lives, are long gone.

Now, with the help of ace physical therapists and state-of-the-art equipment, they're fighting to regain what explosions and bullets took.

Each person on a mat or machine has a story. Hartswick's began five weeks ago and thousands of miles from his Pine Grove Mills and State College homes.

An Army combat medic, Hartswick lost his legs above the knees and his right index finger to an improvised explosive device on May 14 in Afghanistan. He either stepped on the IED or it was detonated as he and other soldiers came to the aid of an ambushed foot patrol.
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