Amputee overcomes odds to ‘get the job done’

| May 5, 2017 | 0 Comments
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Staff Sgt. Justin Hollenbach (left), a provost marshal sergeant, explains physical security requirements with Sgt. Manuel Rodriguez (right), a unit armor, both assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, on Schofield Barracks

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — Staff Sgt. Justin Hollenbach (left), a provost marshal sergeant, explains physical security requirements with Sgt. Manuel Rodriguez (right), a unit armor, both assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, on Schofield Barracks

Story and photos by
Staff Sgt. Carlos Davis
2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The military is a very physical and demanding occupation, and Soldiers who choose to continue to serve after a combat-related injury can face overwhelming odds.

Such was the day March 15, 2005, when a young sergeant in the U.S. Army, deployed in Baghdad, Iraq, met up with his team and briefed them on their daily mission. After conducting their pre-combat checks and inspections like numerous times before, they loaded their vehicles and departed their Forward Operating Base.

Approximately 30 minutes later, their convoy of vehicles was engulfed in smoke and dust. The gunner was left unconscious and the young sergeant experienced a short surreal silence amidst the crowded streets of Baghdad.

Staff Sgt. Justin Hollenbach is now currently a provost marshal sergeant assigned to 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and he is an amputee who decided to continue to serve his country after receiving a life-changing injury after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, or IED.

“When our convoy was hit, I didn’t know I was injured,” said Hollenbach. “I was more worried about my Soldiers and ensuring they were safe.”

Everyone survived that day due to quick thinking, courage and genuine camaraderie that develops from a combat deployment.

Facing a year of intensive rehabilitation training, at Brook Army Medical Center, and a series of tests to convince the Army to retain him in his current military occupational specialty, Hollenbach overcame the odds.

“I decided to stay in since the Army took really good care of me when I was in the hospital,” he said. “I wanted to give back and teach others, so what happened to me doesn’t happen to others.”

According to Hollenbach, having a positive attitude is the major factor when adjusting to a new situation or facing a life-changing injury.

“When I first got to rehab and met with other amputees, it was all about joking with each other about the injuries,” he said. “Laughter was the best medicine when we were getting used to a life-changing injury and learning how to adjust to a new situation.”

Leaders who have worked alongside Hollenbach describe his work ethic and military experience unmatched.

“Hollenbach has the character and work ethic equal or better than some of the best noncommissioned officers I’ve worked with in the Military Police Corps,” said Capt. Derrick Lytle, an MP provost marshal assigned to 2IBCT. “He uses his institutional knowledge, vast experience and resources to provide expertise and guidance to all battalions and brigade staff. In all aspects of his position, he wants to be where the unit needs him and doesn’t let his leaders’ concerns or training conditions limit him from being effective due to his injury.”

Some of Hollenbach’S accomplishments since his injury are completion of three phases of Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Courses, the Army Basic Instructor Course, the Evasive Driver Course, the Antiterrorism Course, Drug Abuse Resistance Education Instructor Couse, the Police Bike/Boat Certification, and the Gang Resistance Education and Training Instructor Course.

For Hollenbach, being an amputee doesn’t bring limitations; however, it allows him to show everyone that there are other ways of doing things.

“I (believe) that I have inspired some Soldiers, since they don’t want to be outdone by a one-legged guy,” he said. “I don’t really have limitations in my mind. I just have to try everything and find out how to do it differently, so I get the job done.”

 

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Category: Leadership, News

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