Just like any other day, Dale Beatty, a National Guardsman serving in Northern Iraq, went out for his routine patrol when the Humvee he was riding in deviated slightly off the road, changing his life forever.
Eight years later when asked about the misfortunate accident, all Beatty remembers is seeing a lot of sand while the Humvee went up in the air. He could hear a loud boom and feel a lot of pain in his body.
The vehicle hit an anti-tank land mine, flying nearly 50 feet in the air. When Beatty came to his senses, his legs were trapped under the rubble. Within a few days after the accident, both his legs were amputated below the knee.
Today’s inspiring story is about a veteran who even after going through a life-altering injury didn’t give up on his positive attitude towards life.
"For some reason, I've always been able to see how lucky I am. It's not like losing a fingernail. But ... it's just the way it has to be. I've met people that have been hurt a lot worse than me that have lived full, fulfilling lives. So there's no excuse for me not to."
– Dale Beatty
Before the accident, Beatty had hoped to build a house for his wife and two young sons after returning home to Statesville, North Carolina. It took him a year to recover at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. His two prosthetic legs and a wheelchair added some ambiguity to his dreams because he wasn’t sure of being able to manage things like before.
They say that when you really wish for something, the entire world helps you achieve your goals. That’s exactly what happened with Beatty when a church member reached him with help after hearing about his misfortunate accident. He persuaded the Iredell County Builders Association (of which he was a member) to help Beatty build a wheelchair-friendly home that will have wide doorways and roll-in bathrooms. The land was bequeathed by Beatty's father, and a few volunteers pitched in to help under Beatty’s supervision.
Beatty consulted his friend John Gallina, who was a building contractor and with whom he had also served in the National Guard and was the one driving the Humvee when it hit the landmine. Gallina was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. His wounds may be less visible than Beatty's, but he also struggled in adjusting with the post-war life.
Once the house was complete, Beatty and Gallina decided to "pay it forward" to help other disabled veterans. It was in 2008 when they both pooled in their military disability payments and started Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit set up that modifies and build homes for US veterans and have been able to provide housing facilities for 30 disabled veterans in several East Coast states by now.
Beatty, while expressing his happiness regarding the project didn’t forget to mention that there are still thousands of other veterans who need their help.
Following Beatty’s contribution for the veterans, a number of nonprofits have come up to help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with their housing issues in the past decade.
When asked about Beatty’s experience in coming up with such a great facility for the US veterans, he said "The whole community helping me, and working alongside me, it was such a good feeling. We want to make those changes that make their life easier, safer, just better. We are putting value back into the properties by not making them free, and we are putting value into the veterans. This is a hand up, not a handout."
Gallina added, "When you have people saying thank you (by coming) to your home to swing a hammer and paint a wall, it says something different than shaking your hand and buying you a drink. And that support continues once the project is done."
Talking about their future projects, Beatty and Gallina mentioned that they also want to help those who cannot afford to buy their own home, especially the younger generation. While the organization has built a couple of houses from scratch, it has also helped in developing a program that moves veterans into excluded properties donated by banks and municipalities. The group matches a disabled veteran with each property and then partners with a community organization that can collect volunteers to renovate it.
Do you believe that a positive attitude is the best healing just like Dale Beatty did? If you want to read about more such inspiring stories then let us know in the comment section below.