Editor’s note: These stories were produced by the Department of Defense and published here as part of a partnership with Military Times.
Master Sergeant Ivan Morera serves as an Army Special Forces Medic. He has served in the Army since 2001 and was a part of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. During this deployment, Morera saw a Special Forces team and said to himself, “I want to do that.” After returning from deployment, Morera went to qualification and special forces medic training. Upon graduating two years later, he was assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group.
Morera now found himself on his way to Afghanistan to meet his team. “It had been four years since I went to combat, and it was a completely different scenario,” Morera said. During this deployment, he was be involved in a vehicle rollover caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) worn by a Taliban insurgent. When Morera woke up, his left hand had been crushed under the vehicle door and had to be removed to free him. Morera ended up at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX.
Morera described his second night in the hospital as “a real tough night.” He started to question how he would care for his family, what his team thought of him, and what he would do. Morera was determined not to give into the fear of the unknown and started making goals. Through rehab, prosthetic training, occupational therapy, strength, and conditioning training, Morera remained resilient and focused on his goals, one of the most significant was to rejoin his team. “I wanted to get back to being a Green Beret,” which he did.
Morera became the only upper-body amputee qualified for military free fall in the DoD and the only upper-body amputee serving as a combat medic. The incident also changed Morera’s priorities, making him question what was more important, his career or his family. Even though he still wanted to be a Green Beret, Morera realized that his family was his priority. “To be honest, I am better for it. I’m a better man now. I’m a better husband. I’m a better father because my priorities changed,” Morera said.
Eight years later, Morera continues to recover physically, mentally, and spiritually as he prepares for his second visit to the DoD Warrior Games. Being part of Team SOCOM is similar to being on a Green Beret twelve-man team for Morera. “You grow close to each other and support each other like brothers and sisters,” and that is something Morera has missed. His new team has renewed his drive to strive to improve and help others do the same. For Morera, participating in the Games is a chance to show others that “no matter your situation, you can overcome it, you can get through it. It’s your character, your heart, and what you think of yourself that defines who you are, not your situation.”
Archery, Field, Indoor Rowing, Seated Volleyball