Don’t Look Away

For Wounded Soldiers, the Battle Outlasts the War

With chilling matter-of-factness, Joshua Tuohy describes the explosion that took his right leg and killed three of his buddies. An infantryman in a Stryker unit, Tuohy, twenty-four, had been in Afghanistan just three and a half months that day in September 2009. The Stryker, an eight-wheeled armored combat vehicle equipped with machine guns and a grenade launcher, is difficult to maneuver through Afghanistan’s narrow mountain passes, a situation the Taliban exploits when planting IEDs.

“We were rolling toward a village in Zabul province when we hit a choke point, a kind of bottleneck,” Tuohy recalls. “I was in the first vehicle, in the airguard hatch, on the machine gun, half in and half out of the vehicle. The bomb went off right underneath me, direct impact. It split the chassis in half, filleted it like a tuna.” He laughs. “We hit a pressure plate. We didn’t even take contact. It’s a pretty unimpressive story in my opinion.”

Tuohy is sitting in my office at Georgetown University, where he is beginning coursework in the School of Continuing Studies. He is upbeat and optimistic. Pointing to his prosthesis, he tells me that he does not want it to define who he is. “I want people to see my ability, not my disability.” Things could have been worse, he says. “As injuries go,...

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About the Author

Barbara Mujica, professor of Spanish at Georgetown University, is the author of Sister Teresa (2007) and Teresa de Ávila, Lettered Woman (2009), among many other books. She is faculty adviser of the Student Veterans of America chapter at Georgetown and associate facilitator of the GU Veterans Support Team.