Over the last few years I have had the honor of visiting many wounded warriors around the country and in Europe as part of an ongoing effort by the National Cartoonists Society to give back to those who have served us so nobly. In the process we not only got to shake their hands and thank them; we also got to know them, hear their stories, and learn about their lives. There has never been a trip where someone hasn’t remarked that we received more than we gave. We made them smile and left them with some funny drawings; in return they gave us inspiration.
When you talk to these heroes, a consistent theme arises. They don’t want pity and they don’t want special treatment. They want to live life; or rather, they want to excel at it. They don’t just want to walk again, they want to run marathons. They don’t just want a job after they get out, they want to run a corporation. Many want to stay on active duty, but not in a reduced capacity. Instead, they want to return to Iraq or Afghanistan and continue the fight, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their comrades they left behind. These young men and women will some day run our country, and it couldn’t be in better hands.
Case in point: Cpl Daniel Lasko
Cpl. Daniel Lasko
To put it as eloquently as I can, Daniel Lasko is a stud. He joined the Marine Corps just prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He soon found himself on the front lines, fighting against those very people who were behind the assaults on the American way of life.
In 2004, in Afghanistan, his vehicle tripped a roadside bomb, and his foot was mangled so badly it had to be amputated. While recovering at Walter Reed, he met members of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, who he credits with giving him inspiration and hope.
He used his GI Bill benefits to earn a degree in criminal justice, and along the way found out about a program called, “Team Semper Fi“, an athletic organization that races to raise funds for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. He and his teammates – other wounded warriors – began to run triathlons and marathons.
Eventually he qualified for the Wounded Warrior Program, designed to provide fellowships for wounded troops as staff members in the House of Representatives. He was the first Marine in the country to qualify, and he is there today, serving in the offices of Pennsylvania Representative Allyson Schwartz, acting as a veteran case worker.
If you ask me, he is destined for leadership in our country. Daniel Lasko is our hero of the week.
To read his story, see the DefenseLink article.