Man on a mission: Working to help veterans who have lost limbs
DAN BERSCHINSKI lost both of his legs in 2009 when he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan. His immediate thought, the West Point graduate told CBS news, was that his life was over, but soon came to realize that a whole new chapter had begun.
“Look, I was an officer,” he told JACQUELINE GENOVESE, assistant director of the Arts, Humanities, and Medicine Program in the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, who interviewed Berschinski for the School of Medicine’s SCOPE blog.
“I couldn’t sit there feeling sorry for myself. My soldiers were still in Afghanistan, still getting killed. And the hospital was full of guys with injuries as bad or worse than mine.”
Now an MBA student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, he is learning how to develop a company he started, Two-Six Industries, which distributes manufactured products to military bases, into a thriving enterprise that employs other veteran amputees.
Genovese writes that the fact that Berschinski is able to walk on his prosthetic legs is a stunning achievement.
“Let’s just say that nobody with my injury has ever walked out of Walter Reed,” the Army veteran told her.
“Berschinski’s right prosthetic leg attaches to his hip – there was nothing left of his leg to salvage. On his left side, he must force the portion of his thigh that is left into a sleeve…Berschinski is quick to point out that he feels lucky. Pointing to his left hand, which is missing a finger and is marked by a large portion of a skin graft.
“The use of IEDs and the length of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean that there are veteran amputees in numbers not seen since the Civil War. But in a society where only less than 1 percent of the population participated in those wars, these veterans are somewhat invisible. Berschinski is out to change that by raising the visibility of veterans who have lost limbs. In addition, he wants to shine light on civilian amputees, particularly children, who often cannot afford prosthetics. He serves on the board of the Amputee Coalition, using what he describes as this ‘new change in my life’ to help others who he believes aren’t as fortunate as he,” Genovese continues.
“I have the advantage of being cared for by the government. I have access to cutting edge prosthetic limbs and care. Most people don’t have that,” Berschinski said.
Read the full post on the SCOPE blog.