Disabled Army veteran Adam Greathouse was named the 2017 DAV Freedom Award recipient at this year’s National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.
Greathouse, a West Virginia native, suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and major damage to his lungs and other internal organs while deployed to Kosovo.
“I had hoses in my left lung, my right lung was suffering other conditions at the time, they had chest tubes in,” he said. “I lost the left one. My right lung has scar tissue, and at the time, I had an enlarged heart from all of this, and all of my organs were trying to shut down.”
The mortality rate for injures like his is 98 percent. A flag was sent home to his mother’s house to be draped over his coffin, and a warrant officer was dispatched to escort his body home.
Greathouse pulled through, however, and was eventually medically retired. He returned home to his parents’ house but was a shell of the person he once was. Recovering from the TBI forced him to relearn how to write and walk. He fell into a deep depression.
“I just stayed in the room, as dark as possible; no music, no TV. I hardly ate,” said Greathouse. “I felt like I was a burden and just existing. That’s when I started contemplating taking my own life.”
At his lowest point, he found himself sleeping in his truck in empty parking lots. It was after his mother’s continued encouragement to seek help that he finally relented and went to his local VA for assistance.
He eventually began recreational therapy and attended his first winter sports clinic in 2012.
“We came here to the winter sports clinic in Snowmass and my life changed forever,” he said. “I took all the stuff I’ve learned here, and I’ve taken it home and applied it to my own recovery process.”
Since then, Greathouse has also made it his personal mission to give back to fellow disabled veterans.
“He would drive two hours to come here, even on days when he wasn’t scheduled,” said Deborah Brammer, a representative from the Huntington VA Medical Center in West Virginia. “He’s all over the medical center, helping veterans get to where they need to be, pushing wheelchairs, and he always has a smile on his face.”
But despite his commitment, he insists he’s no hero.
“I’m just a regular guy who went through what he had to go through to survive, and I was in survival mode for a real long time,” he said. “Now, after the winter sports clinic, I just go every single day as hard as I can and enjoy life.”