For the first 25 years of my life I was as an able-bodied American. I played football and soccer and even ran a few marathons. All of that changed three years ago. Having graduated from West Point, I was serving my country as an Army infantry officer in Afghanistan when I was seriously wounded: I stepped on the unseen trigger of an improvised explosive device, and both my legs were instantly torn from my body. From that moment on, my life has been drastically different.
Today, after three years of hard effort, I’m proud to be able to walk using prosthetic legs. Yet obstacles that might seem inconsequential to the fully able-bodied, like sidewalk curbs and stairs, take on a whole new meaning for people like me who struggle to walk, or who use a wheelchair. Fortunately, the United States leads the world in accessibility and equality of opportunity for the disabled. Unfortunately, the advantages we take for granted here at home — the policies that allow people like me to live fulfilling, independent lives — don’t exist in much of the rest of the world.