Pfc. Josh Smith of Copperas Cove was hit with shrapnel from a mortar attack while serving in Iraq in February 2008. He has had multiple surgeries to repair his right hand and two surgeries on his stomach. He lost his small intestine and has no feeling in most of his right leg. For Smith, life will never be the same.
Smith, who served in 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, is now medically retired after only three years of service due to his extensive injuries.
Patriot Outdoor Adventures is a volunteer-based and driven organization supporting wounded warriors like Smith. Through Patriot Adventures, Smith recently participated in a trip to Port Aransas for wounded warriors and their families to enjoy a few days of relaxation and an opportunity to share their experiences with fellow service members.
“Sometimes, it bothers me to talk about what happened to me,” Smith said. “But being able to talk with others who have experienced something similar was very helpful — almost therapeutic in a way.”
Patriot Outdoor Adventures was started in 2008 and is dedicated to taking wounded warriors hunting, fishing, and on other outings to assist in the healing process through camaraderie and a peer network. The organization applied for nonprofit status.
Copperas Cove resident James T. Taylor leads the Texas Division.
“The difference in Patriot Outdoor Adventures and other hunting and fishing expeditions for wounded warriors is that we include the families,” Taylor said. “We ensure that the soldier’s and the family’s needs are being met physically, mentally and emotionally on these trips.”
Smith said it was helpful for his wife to be able to talk with the other wives on the trip about caring for their husbands when they came back injured from war and learn about their experiences.
“We both felt a lot better when we came back (from the trip). It was nice to be able to talk to someone who has been through the same thing we have,” Smith said.
Former Copperas Cove City Councilman Danny Palmer, a veteran with 31 years of military service and amputee who was injured in war, was on the trip.
“More than anything, a soldier returning from deployment, especially the wounded, is stuck between two walls until he learns again to be a family man,” Palmer said.
Smith and his wife, Natalie, have a daughter, Kaylee, 2, and are expecting their second child in February as they try to develop some type of normalcy in their lives.
“I definitely value life more, especially after my incident (combat injury),” Smith said. “I know how close I was to losing my life and I am grateful more for my life every day.”