[nfbwatlk] Blind Soldiers Still Serving, Thriving In New Positions, Huffington Post, May 21 2010

Nightingale, Noel Noel.Nightingale at ed.gov
Mon May 24 18:26:10 CDT 2010



Link:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/21/blind-soldiers-still-serv_n_585038.html

Text:
Blind Soldiers Still Serving, Thriving In New Positions
MICHAEL HILL | 05/21/10

In this April 8, 2010 photo, Capt. Scott Smiley gives a tour of his staff's offices in West Point, N.Y. Smiley is one of only a few blind soldiers to remain on active duty since the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though unable to return to his old infantry duties, Smiley has thrived in stateside postings like his latest at West Point, where he graduated in 2003. He now commands the Warrior Transition Unit here for ailing or wounded soldiers. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Since a car bomb blinded Capt. Scott Smiley in Iraq, he has skied Vail, climbed Mount Rainier, earned his MBA, raised two young boys with his wife, won an Espy award and pulled himself up from faith-shaking depths.

Smiley, 30, has snagged attention for his big accomplishments. But the daily ones are telling, too, including the recent tour he gave of his staff's offices at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he plans to attend President Barack Obama's address of the Class of 2010 on Saturday.

Unable to see the path around the workers' cubicles, Smiley stepped forward with a joke to the camouflage-clad officers he was showing around: "I walk around, and when I hit things, I move," he said.

An aide trailing him said softly, "Turn right, sir," at a doorway. Smiley turned.

Smiley, of Pasco, Wash., is one of only a handful of soldiers who chose to remain on active duty after being blinded by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that's rare but one that military officials say benefits both parties.

Though unable to return to his old infantry duties in Iraq, Smiley has thrived in stateside postings such as his latest at West Point, from which he graduated in 2003. He now commands the Warrior Transition Unit at West Point for ailing or wounded soldiers.

Voice software allows Smiley to listen to e-mails, books and pamphlets. Aides help him navigate and tell him what order he's signing. It's a little like changing his son's diapers at home: He's fine as long as he knows where everything is.

His resiliency and energy helped him earn the 2007 Soldier of the Year commendation from the publication Army Times, as well as an ESPN Espy award in 2008 for best outdoor athlete.

He earned his master's of business administration at Duke University and has spoken to the Olympic and Duke teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski, a fellow West Point alum. He has a memoir coming out this year titled "Hope Unseen."





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