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Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center - Richmond, VA

 

Veteran looks ahead after accident

William Miller at Belle Isle

Army Veteran William Miller tests out his new prosthetic leg on Belle Isle in downtown Richmond.

By David Hodge, Public Affairs Specialist
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This past January, William Miller had a mechanical problem with his Harley Davidson Softail motorcycle and pulled to the side of the road. Miller, who spent six years as a military policeman, believes the problem was the cruiser’s clutch system. While assessing the bike, he was struck by a passing vehicle.

Although Miller lost his left leg above the knee, the North Carolinian said he is lucky to have survived. He credits first responders for saving his life after the accident. By pure happenstance, the off-duty crew was traveling in an ambulance about a mile behind when everything occurred. They were able to provide live-saving first aid to Miller in the crucial first minutes.

Not one to let misfortune hold him back, Miller has worked hard and exceeded expectations since his arrival at the McGuire VA Medical Center in early May.

“Mr. Miller is not your run-of-the-mill kind of patient,” said Patty Young, amputee rehabilitation coordinator at McGuire. “He is also fearless; not afraid to challenge himself by being out of his comfort zone.” 

Young leads the Amputee Boot Camp at McGuire and challenges participants to reach their goals. She leads Veterans to grocery stores, the mall, outdoor playing field and playground, local coffee shops and even Belle Isle in Richmond. Participants are challenged to spend 3-5 hours in rehab each day as part of the program.

“I don’t tend to be the nicest when it comes to the outing,” Young said. “We take the long way, or the bumpy way, or the most crowded way to provide the opportunity to be in an uncontrolled environment.”

Miller is extremely agile and has strength and body awareness unlike many amputees, Young said. He was ready for everything the boot camp threw at him.

“We go around outside,” Miller explained, gesturing his hands toward the patio landscaping outside the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program building at McGuire. “I did some gardening the other day.”

Upon his arrival to McGuire, Miller, a spry 29 year old, entered the Servicemember Transitional Advanced Rehabilitation (STAR) program. STAR is a residential treatment program focused on rehabilitating patients with amputations or other polytrauma injuries. While in STAR, Miller routinely visits with multiple therapists and specialists to track progress and address new issues.

Miller wants to one day return to his active lifestyle. Part of that process involves finding a proper fit with his new prosthetic leg. 

“I’m hoping to run on it one day,” Miller said. “I’m looking to do all that fun stuff I used to do.”

Before losing his leg, Miller trained to work as an airframe power plant technician. He gained employment shortly before his accident and the company agreed to hold the position for him, Miller said.

“They said it was because of my work ethic,” he said.

Miller said he is looking forward to starting his new job very soon.

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