ST. LOUIS (KSDK) – Many soldiers are prepared to die for our country, but they were never prepared for a life of disability or the challenges it presents their families.
But because of an organization here in St. Louis, the quality of life for six of those war heroes is about to improve.
They came from all over the country. Many of them had prosthetics. Some had canes and knee braces. All of them had horrifying stories to tell from their time spent serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It's not something you can forget. But it is something that one organization hopes to make easier. At a cost of almost $10,000 per person, Seg4Vets is getting six injured veterans into Segways.
The architect of it all is 59-year-old Jerry Kerr. In 1998, he was paralyzed from a swimming accident. He got on a Segway a few years later, and in 2007, he's helped 1,200 veterans receive Segways.
"Watching these recipients overcome their adversity and live a purpose-filled joyous life," is the reason why he says he leads Seg4Vets.
"If you've never experienced life in a wheelchair, you can't grasp how the world changes, how everybody looks right past you, right over the top of your head, and now we get to see each other at eye level," Kerr said.
Granite City, Illinois resident Robert Guithues is one of the veterans who has received a Segway.
He spent 21 years in the army before suffering a spinal cord injury in Afghanistan. Thanks to the Segway he got on Tuesday, he was moving without pain for the first time.
"My world shrank when I got injured, and this will allow my world to expand a lot more," he said.
The training started in the classroom – inside. And by the time the afternoon came, they looked good, easily navigating their way around Busch Stadium.
"They'll able to move around more easily, to go out on walks and participate with the family and really rejoin society," Kerr said.
Seg4Vets has only three fulltime employees. They have 30 volunteers, and they need them all.
Candidates for the program have to have sustained injuries that resulted in amputation to one or both legs, extensive soft tissue and muscle injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury and other neurological injuries and disorders.
For more information about Segs4Vets, go to http://www.segs4vets.org/.