Author: John Peck, Dava Guerin, and Terry Bivens
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Length: 216 Pages
Publish Date: 2019
Tags/Triggers: Mental Health, Military Service, Suicidal Ideation, Physical Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury
Born in 1985 to a single mom, John Peck was destined for military service. Throughout his childhood he remained resilient despite repeated physical and emotional abuse, family financial struggles and homelessness. However, he continued to persevere and achieve his dreams. In 2005, Peck joined the Marines. Little did he know just how much it would change his life, in ways he could never have imagined.
Not long after enlisting, Lance Corporal Peck was sent on his first deployment to Iraq. There he spent his time patrolling the area in order to network with the locals and complete searches to gather intelligence on terrorist cells. During one of these patrols his vehicle rolled over a pressure plate triggering an improvised explosive device (IED).This incident resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that promptly ended his deployment and nearly ended his military career.
The TBI that Lance Corporal Peck received caused much more than just momentary confusion. He spent years undergoing evaluations and rehabilitation to learn how to live with the resulting memory and motor damage. With lots of hard work and support, he was able to prove that he was still capable of being a fully functioning Marine with minimal accommodations. In 2009, he reenlisted with the hope of once again being deployed and a year later was sent to Afghanistan.
On May 24th John stepped squarely on the missed device and instantly lost both legs and his right arm. While his left arm was still attached, it was severely injured which would eventually result in it too being surgically removed.
John spent months being stabilized. Every conscious moment, he begged the medical staff to let him die. Between the pain and reality of his new disability he could not imagine there was any purpose in his life. It wasn’t until he witnessed others overcoming similar injuries and living fulfilling lives that he began to see a future for himself as well.
He began to build his network of support, and the more people he connected with the more meaning he saw in his life. When he realized that leaving his darkness behind was helping others do the same, he became even more motivated to regain his independence. As he began to be an active participant in his treatment, he earned a new rank: Sergeant. In this leadership role, he reflected on all the trauma he had overcome thus far and was determined to dig within himself and awaken that same perseverance and resilience he’d had as a child. John began to advocate for himself and take his new challenges head on, leading to his to becoming the first successful recipient of a double arm transplant.
Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan reminds us that despite the complexities that come with managing disabilities everyone is capable of living a fulfilling and purposeful life. It is a great read for anyone facing challenges in their lives be they physical, such as the loss of a limb, or mental, such as depression and anxiety. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an inspirational page turner. “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan” challenged me to look for opportunities for growth within problems I experience and to recognize that life is more than the events that make it up. It is okay to feel despair in the face of suffering, yet remember that it is only a part of your story. Life doesn’t always happen the way we expect, and living with that uncertainty is something we all have face.
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