Bronze Star winner helps other injured veterans

Bronze Star winner helps other injured veterans
Bronze Star winner helps other injured veterans
Bronze Star winner helps other injured veterans
Bronze Star winner helps other injured veterans
By Bryon Saxton
Hilltop Times Staff
May 29, 2014

FARMINGTON — Woods Cross retired Army Sgt. Josh Hansen says former President George W. Bush remains in good physical condition, to the point Secret Service agents struggle to keep pace when the former president is bike riding.

Hansen, military liaison for Wasatch Adaptive Sports, a non-profit program offering recreational therapy for veterans with special needs, was one of 16 servicemen and women who recently got to spend a few days with Bush on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

On Tuesday, Hansen, who suffered a brain injury during his second tour in Iraq, was recognized by the Davis County Commission for all the contributions he has made and continues to make to the country. The commission presented Hansen with a county coin embossed in a Utah-shaped commemorative piece.

“We all talk about making a difference, but (Hansen) does it,” Commissioner Louenda Downs said.

Hansen, joined at the meeting by his wife Melissa of 20 years, his mother Deidre, and his sister Kimberley LeMay, spoke of how he recently returned from Texas after having spent April 30 to May 4 on Bush’s ranch, where veterans were given the opportunity to join Bush on a bike ride.

“Those Secret Service guys were struggling,” Hansen said of the former president’s vigorous ride.

Hansen, 42, a former motorcycle rider and repairman, said at 30 years old he enlisted soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington had occurred.

It was during his second tour, from 2006-2007, that Hansen sustained a brain injury serving as an IED hunter in doing some road clearance in support of the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces in and around Fallujah, Iraq.

His vehicle sustained eight direct hits which caused multiple injuries to him over a seven-month time frame before he was medically evacuated out of Iraq on March 15, 2007, according to the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

His official retirement from the Army was on March 13, 2010, with Hansen being awarded the Bronze Star on May 16, 2013.

But soldiers in coming home, Hansen said, lose that sense of camaraderie they had with their fellow servicemen and women, on occasion becoming depressed and sometimes suicidal.

That is where Hansen’s efforts with Wasatch Adaptive Sports comes into play, as he now works with veterans, particularly those who have been injured, encouraging them to get out and go fishing, camping, bike riding or skiing, the very thing that has helped with his muscle memory.

“My goal is to not lose another soldier (to suicide),“ Hansen told the commission.

And it is with that effort, Hansen said, that has helped him cope with his own injury as he volunteers at the Salt Lake City VA Hospital and in 2013 became one of its peer support specialists.

“Helping others has helped me heal,” he said.

“Our hearts are full,” County Commissioner Bret Millburn told Hansen.

Millburn said he has a stepson who did a tour in Iraq.

Hilltop Times