Editor’s Note: Operation Vacation is a program that brings military personnel who have fought overseas to the Roaring Fork Valley. For more information about the program, or to make donations, visit http://www.operationvacation.org.
Glenwood Springs, CO ColoradoThis month’s soldier is Stephen Lenoir, 21, of Etowah, Tenn. He joined the Army in September 2004 and was deployed in Iraq for a year, starting in October 2005. Though he returned from the Middle East safely, it wasn’t long before he faced a life-or-death situation in the United States. In June of 2006, he started exhibiting signs of what he thought was bronchitis or pneumonia, which turned out to be heart failure. While he was unconscious in the hospital, a blood clot formed in his heart and traveled down to his leg, killing the muscle. One month later with his right leg amputated. He’s currently on the donor list for a heart transplant, and, as soon as he is healthier, will be retired from service.He’s visiting Glenwood Springs with his wife, Heather, and his son, Adrian, 4. His father, Stephen Sr.; mother, Sherry; and sister, Shyla, are also here, lending a helping hand.Why did you join the military? My family. My son was around 1 when I joined. I just figured it was a good choice. Go to school and support my family.
Was it hard to be separated from your family in Iraq? Yeah. It made it easier, because I had an office job, and in the office we had a phone, so I could call back to the States every day.What is your most memorable military experience? The best memory I have is our wedding day.What experience in your travels overseas surprised you the most? How hot it was. And that they had a pool. That was a shock to me.Since your injury, how has your life changed? Well, I don’t really think it’s changed so much. I need more help and assistance with certain things, but, other than that, it’s normal. The only problem I have is keeping a prosthetic leg. Every time I have one, it breaks.
What are you looking forward to doing in Glenwood Springs? I don’t really know. I have to be on standby for this heart transplant at the all times. If I get a call for it, I have to leave.Do you have any dreams for your future?I want to go to school. Every time I say I’m going to, something happens. Most definitely to go to school. What is the most important thing in your life?My family. My family.
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