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HERO OF THE WEEK: Wounded Vet-Turned-Military-Doctor Christian Labra


“Ten years ago, Army Capt. Christian Labra’s spirit was as broken as his body. A U.S. Military Academy graduate deployed to Iraq just a few months after the initial invasion, he was pumped up about the importance of the mission and the close camaraderie he felt with his fellow 1st Armored Division soldiers.

All that came crumbling down on him — literally — during a night patrol outside Baghdad in late 2003. Labra and another soldier, searching out the source of mortar attacks that had been pummeling U.S. forces, approached a cinder block wall that blocked a known weapons cache.

They pulled a pipe that extended from the wall, suspecting that the insurgents used it to scale the wall and get to the trove. The wall immediately collapsed, breaking both Labra’s legs and his pelvis. He got a personal introduction to battlefield medicine and wounded warrior care as he was whisked from Baghdad to Kuwait and ultimately, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Looking back to the ordeal, Labra said he was struck by the skill and compassion he encountered from the moment of his injury. He remembered the combat medic who rushed to care for him at the scene. The Humvee driver who did everything within his power, albeit it unsuccessfully, to avoid bumps in the Baghdad streets while hurrying Labra to the combat support hospital. The medic who handed him a satellite phone when he woke up in the middle of the night, one leg now encased in a metal contraption, and urged him to call his worried parents to let them know he was OK.

That was just the beginning of Labra’s exposure to military medicine. He praised the professionalism of medevac crews who braved enemy rockets to ferry him to Baghdad International Airport, then on to Kuwait and Germany. The labor and delivery nurse who stayed beyond her shift when he arrived at Landstuhl to wash his body and give him the first shave he’d had in days. The hospital roommate who, despite his own excruciating injuries, hobbled to Labra’s bedside to comfort him during a particularly fitful nightmare.

“There was so much compassion, so much caring,” he said. “It was just a perfect storm of good care.””

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We would love to see now, a year later, how he is doing with his new career path!  We love hearing stories where someone can take a bad experience in their life and turn it into something inspirational and positive.  Thank you, Christian Labra, for your services overseas, your bravery, and you dedication to taking care of others currently!