On September 11, 2007 Army Specialist Jonathan Pruziner followed his squad leader out the door of an abandoned house near Baghdad, Iraq, where Jon and his Second Cavalry Eagle Troop comrades had been pinned down and surrounded during a day-long gun battle against insurgents. They planned a break-out move to connect with troops in a house across the street. Jon took a few steps, and in that moment left behind the life he had known. He somehow had connected with an improvised explosive device the insurgents had planted near the door. Jon was blown thrown the air, his leg severed at the boot, his left arm and one of its arteries ripped open, his intestines ruptured, and his ear drums and ear bones shattered. |
After trauma surgery in Iraq and Germany, he landed within a week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. to begin a lengthy, extensive, and physically and emotionally punishing rehabilitation process. In his early days at Walter Reed, Jon, just 20 years old, thought he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. But thanks to his resilience and determination, within two years Jon ran the Army Ten-Miler—at an eight-and-a-half minute per mile pace.
After being medically discharged from the Army, Jon sought above all a purposeful role in life. “There were two things I wanted to be as a kid; a soldier and a cop,” he recalled. With encouragement from friends and mentors, he entered the Montgomery County Police Academy and joined the force on January 28, 2013, as a police officer serving in the Fifth District.
In his two years on the force, Jon has performed flawlessly and without concession to his prosthesis. “He shows other people you can get beyond your limitations. I don’t think he looks at himself as being limited,” said Commander David Gillespie.
But not lost to Jon’s superiors and coworkers has been the commitment he has made in large and small ways to reach beyond his particular challenges. “He has to put extra thought and effort into all he does, to protect himself and others, knowing it will take a little extra every day,” noted Gillespie.
Jon concedes that his approach to his job is slightly different than other patrol officers. “It takes planning and preparation before I do anything. I have to keep myself in shape and pay attention to my prosthesis. If I think a part will fail I have to get it fixed right away,” he explained.
Despite this concession, Jon does not view as exceptional his long road to recovery and a satisfying life. “It doesn’t help anybody to have self-pity, fear, or panic. I realized I just had to move past my injury.”
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