A Journey to Recovery

In recognition of Warrior Care Month, the following is the first in a three-part series focusing on one Fort Lee Soldier’s story of heroism and healing …

Warrior Care Month is a month long observance aimed at enlightening the community to the eye-opening continuum of care that has been implemented to ensure our service members are cared for through the acute, rehabilitation and recovery phases.

Every wounded warrior has their own story to tell, why they joined the Armed Services, how they were injured, and what the future now holds for them. Our story is about Staff Sgt. Jimmie Fedrick, a wounded warrior assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Kenner Army Health Clinic and the long journey he and his Family face. Fedrick doesn’t remember many details from that Sunday in July 2007 when he took a step that has forever changed his life. Yet, his constant pain and injuries are a reminder of his long journey to recovery.

It was July 29, 2007, and Fedrick was doing what he loved. He was a squad leader for Soldiers of the 223rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division responsible for clearing operations for the major roadways in Baghdad.

Fedrick’s squad was responsible for keeping out the insurgents and keeping the main roadways safe. Fedrick was good at what he did and was respected by his men.

Three months into his deployment, Fedrick dismounted from the Stryker vehicle that he and several other Soldiers were operating and began to enter a small compound just outside Baghdad.

When the Stryker vehicle rolled over a mud puddle just inside the compound, the buried pressure plated improvised explosive device exploded. The impact threw Fedrick 25 feet across the compound and sent shrapnel into both his legs, buttocks and right arm.

In that very instant his life was changed forever. It wasn’t until two weeks later that he realized just what had happened.

Fedrick was medically evacuated from Baghdad to Landstuhl, Germany, then transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on July 31, 2007. He remained in the intensive care unit for a week and a half.

His wife, Chief Warrant 2 Qurell Fedrick, and the couple’s two sons, Tayvon and Jordan, who were stationed in Korea at the time, immediately left to be at Fedrick’s side. They arrived at Walter Reed just two days after her husband arrived and remained the duration of his medical care.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Fedrick underwent a series of 25 surgeries.

This included 17 debridement procedures to remove the various debris from his body which encompasses his backside from the waist down to his knees.

Fedrick endured numerous reconstructive and scar revision surgeries, left ear drum replacement, Ulnar nerve movement and numerous skin graphs and hop nerve freezing. Due to the nature of his wounds, Fedrick had a colostomy procedure to allow the medical team to keep his wounds clean.

After spending two months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he was transferred to the Veteran Affairs hospital in Richmond on Sept. 20, 2007. He was treated for the significant loss of muscle to both thighs, nerve damage to both legs and his right arm.

Because of the extensive trauma to his legs, Fedrick had to relearn those things taken for granted by most people, such as walking, sitting and bending.

– See next week’s Traveller for Part II