Injury: Double Above Knee Amputations
Military Branch: USMC
As he lay on the ground in Afghanistan knowing that his legs had been vaporized by a land mine, Marine Corporal Brian Aft’s life didn’t flash before his eyes – it was more like a thousand thoughts of family, friends, girlfriend, and teammates crowded into his head. Shivering in shock, waiting for rescue, he had enough time to ponder things he hadn’t done and might never do.
Brian and is dog Buckshot had been on patrol near Helmand Province, when they crossed an irrigation ditch. Between one step and another, a violent explosion threw both through the air.
Battlefield medics kept him alive long enough to get to the intensive care he needed. Then through Germany, Bethesda, and finally San Antonio, he faced what seemed like an endless journey toward an uncertain future. Heavy medication helped dull the excruciating daily pain, but prescription soon turned into addiction. When doctors stopped providing pain meds, heroin sounded like the next best thing. When you don’t really care whether you live or die, it doesn’t really matter what makes you stop hurting.
He eventually sought treatment in a detox facility, but still battled urges to use every day. He worried that he might relapse until Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) founder David Vobora ran up to him in a Starbucks parking lot.
At first Brian wondered what kind of trouble he was in for, but when Vobora told home about the mission of ATF to creatively train people with life changing injuries, he was intrigued. He checked out the facility, spent time with other athletes and joined Class 1 of REDEFINE, an intensive, nine-week training program meant to push his mental and physical limits.
What he found was more than a class; it was a tribe of people who understood where he had been and what he had been going through. They were there for the hard days and the good ones and they weren’t afraid to push him beyond what he thought possible. And what was possible was much more than he ever imagined.
These days, Brian had done things he never imagined when his mind was racing in Afghanistan. He’s skied in Tahoe, visited the White House, trained for a trip to Antarctica, and gotten engaged. He plans to become an ultrasound tech, and best of all he looks forward to what’s next, knowing he has a tribe at his back and a future worth moving towards.