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Monday, November 12, 2012
Sports gave me a way to give back

By Kari Miller

Kari Miller
Kari Miller was always an athlete, and the car accident that caused her to lose her legs did little to change that.

Veterans Day is here!

Looking back to when I was a little girl, I can remember seeing my aunt come home on leave in her Class As. She was tall, strong and everything I wanted to be. I would cuddle up with her on the couch and play with her medals and have her explain them to me over and over again -- she probably grew sick of me. When it came time for me to go to college, I had no way to pay for it; joining the Army was an easy choice. Going into it, I thought I'd get an education out of the deal, but I've gotten so much more. I loved it and wanted to make it my career.

During my first deployment, I truly understood the Army was more than the uniform -- it was an extended family. I remember coming back from that deployment with new uncles, aunts, sisters and brothers. When I had my accident, those family members were there and are still there today.

Immediately after my injury, I felt a huge sense of loss for my legs and for the military family I thought I'd lose. It was awesome when, after my injury, I was introduced to wheelchair basketball. I fell in love once again and looked up to see my military family there cheering for me alongside my mother and aunt. I knew how proud I was to have served and how important it was for us, the injured, to not feel forgotten. Adaptive sports helped me mentally and physically, and the support of my extended family made me want to be better.

During the Paralympic Games in Beijing, my coach asked what we wanted our legacy to be. That made me think of what I could leave behind. I wanted to pass along what I have learned. I was allowed, through the U.S. Paralympics, to work with other injured servicemen. I taught them adaptive sports and helped them get out and be a part of something again. I helped them to get out and kick butt even from a chair! I am truly proud to have served and to be a veteran.