Tommy Counihan, 28, from Palm Beach, Florida, served as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army and seven months into his deployment to Afghanistan suffered a devastating injury.
They drove over pressure plate setting off an IED which resulted in having his right leg amputated below the knee, sending Tommy into depression.
But he soon realized he was the one holding himself back by thinking he couldn’t do things he loved anymore, so threw himself back into sports such as surfing, snowboarding and slacklining.
Tommy still felt he needed to figure out what to do with his lift, which is when he committed to giving back to the adaptive community.
He travels the world and volunteers with organizations to show other combat wounded veterans what they are capable of after traumatic experiences.
His story was captured on video in Bali, Indonesia, by Cuecard, a human-centric media channel empowering everyday people to share their stories, experiences and views on life.
Tommy said: “I found [my purpose in life] over the past couple of years because of something really traumatic that happened to me.
“I was in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer so my job was to look for roadside bombs and seven months into my deployment to Afghanistan we drove over pressure plate.
“It set off an IED that ultimately resulted in me amputating my right leg below the knee. I went to a really dark place because of that and struggled for a long time with depression.
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“I started finding myself again when I realized I was the one holding myself back thinking I wasn’t going be able to do any of the things I loved anymore.
“So I got back into surfing and scuba diving many other types of extreme sports that I did as a kid as a way to show myself that I am the one holding me back.
“I was telling myself ‘no’ more than anybody else. Once I overcame that I still had this sense of I need to figure out what to do with my life from this point now that I am finally happy again.
“I kind of just threw myself head first into giving back to the adaptive community particularly combat wounded veterans and started volunteering with organizations.
“I wanted to show them what you’re capable of after these traumatic experiences happen to you and over the past couple of years I’ve gotten involved with some amazing organizations that have really pushed the boundaries of what most people think the human mind and body are capable of.
“That has just become my purpose wholeheartedly – I just absolutely love it when I see that ‘ah ha’ moment you see the light turn back on in someone’s eyes, when you show them like hey maybe I’m not going to be able to teach you how to surf like me but I can teach you to surf like you, and it’s a beautiful thing.
“I really think that it’s helped me in my recovery and I think that’s the pinnacle of recovery.
“Recovery is a lifelong process I’m never going to really consider myself fully recovered from the physical and the mental trauma that I went through because of that experience.
“But, out there, helping other people to achieve their own form of success has brought me to a place so high that I never even dreamed of soaring to.
“Hopefully that inspires other people even without injuries to go out there and to really charge it, to go full send and live their life to the max because we’ve only got one so I just want to help other people live it to the max.”
Story courtesy of T&T Creative Media.