SSG Matthew Taylor goes from being helped to helping others
PADUCAH, KY -- Last year, Staff Sergeant Matthew Taylor participated in one of his first outdoor therapy programs, a program that had a profound impact on his life.
"I was invited to go on a turkey hunt in Smithland, Kentucky where I shot my first bird," Taylor said. "That bird saved my life."
Taylor suffered severe nerve damage after a helicopter accident overseas in 2010. Because of the accident, doctors told him that he may have to use a wheelchair for up to a year as well as use a cane.
"When I shot that turkey, for the first two hours I didn't feel pain or realize pain was there," Taylor said. "It clicked at that point that maybe I didn't need all the pain meds that I thought I needed."
Since then, he has done everything he can to stay active in the program, until one day he got a chance that he couldn't pass up.
"I was offered the job to run the HOOAH Program," Taylor said. "I have the best job in the military."
HOOAH stands for "Healing Outside Of A Hospital" and is set up to get wounded soldiers a chance to forget about their injuries by participating in outdoor activities. Taylor himself has helped organize more than 34 events this year. At each event, he has seen drastic results in those who participate.
"You can see them do a complete 180," Taylor said. "They get refocused on what life is about and it helps them and their families get back on their feet."
For Taylor and those soldiers, the program itself stands for something more than anyone else could imagine.
"When you're in the military, sometimes you forget that there are people that do care about you in the army," Taylor said. "To see that makes it an awesome experience."