COLD SPRING, Ky. – DAV (Disabled American Veterans) has named Dr. Kenneth K. Lee, a combat-injured Operation Iraqi Freedom and Army veteran, its 2017 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.
Lee, who deployed as the commander of the Army’s Company B, 118th Area Support Medical Battalion, was injured in November 2004 by a suicide car bomber in Iraq. The explosion resulted in an open head traumatic brain injury, severe shrapnel wounds to his legs and lead to his evacuation back to the states, where he would later be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While recovering from his injuries, Lee, a rehabilitation specialist, saw how long and difficult recovery could be, often leaving lasting changes. Lee, who resides in Brookfield, is a volunteer physician at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which the Department of Veterans Affairs and DAV co-host, so he was no stranger to using adaptive sports as therapy. Through his own recovery, Lee propelled himself into the world of adaptive sports to help him deal with the psychological and physiological effects that can often times cause an individual to hit bottom.
Within a year of Lee’s retirement in 2013, he formed the Milwaukee Wheelchair Lacrosse team and is now the president of the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (WASA) which runs numerous adaptive sports programs.
DAV National Commander David W. Riley will present Lee the award at the organization’s 96th National Convention at the Hilton New Orleans, Riverside July 29.
“Dr. Kenneth Lee is a shining example of everything that is good about our nation and its veterans,” said Riley. “The compassion he shows for other veterans and his work to help them find success is truly the hallmark of this award, and we’re very proud of what he’s doing for this community. At DAV we truly value the importance and therapeutic effectiveness of adaptive sports and it is vital to have experienced leaders like Dr. Lee involved and carving out a path ahead.”
Despite his injuries and the constant pain in his lower extremities, Lee speaks with gratitude about his time in the Army.
“I got a lot more from the Guard than I put into it,” said Lee. “I joined the military with my eyes wide open. I volunteered to join. I have no regrets.”
Lee and his wife Kate currently live in Brookfield, Wis., with their two children. As a youth volunteer, in 2014 his daughter Leah earned a $10,000 scholarship by volunteering for the DAV at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. On the same day he will be honored as the charity’s veteran of the year, his son Jonathan has earned the charity’s largest scholarship of $20,000 and will be honored the same morning. They both hope ultimately to serve veterans as physicians through the VA.
Photos and video may be available upon request.
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; providing employment resources to veterans and their families and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with nearly 1.3 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.