A US Air Force rescue reservist has won his battle to re-join the Air Force Reserve after losing his leg in a motorcycle accident.
Senior Airman Kevin Greene is now again a healthcare management technician with the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, but had to spend two and a half years recovering and training to be physically able to re-join, pushing past three rejection letters to once again wear his Air Force blues.
Greene lost the lower quarter of his left leg after a motorcycle accident in December 2014. Due to infections, he had to remain in hospital for two months, but said he never felt alone. “My immediate family was always there of course, but my Air Force Reserve family surprised me. I knew people in the unit cared, but there was no mistaking it on the drill weekends when I’d have like 40 people coming to visit me. The staff didn’t even know what to do with that many visitors. The love and camaraderie I felt within my unit is the driving factor in my wanting to continue to serve.”
Greene was fitted with his first prosthetic in March 2015, but found that a return to his unit was still a long way off.
Whilst recovering, Greene worked with kids at a nearby recreation centre and coached basketball at a nearby high school, all whilst trying to return to the physical fitness required to re-join. “It was discouraging at times; I’m not even going to lie,” he said. “But I knew I was meant to be a Reservist. There are opportunities to be had in the Air Force that you just can’t get anywhere else. I was thriving in the Reserve before my accident, and I just wanted that sense of purpose and pride that comes with the uniform back again.”
In April 2017, Greene faced his final test. He travelled from his home in Florida to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, to talk to the medical evaluation board and pass the Air Force physical fitness test. He got good results in the waist measurement, push-up and sit-up portions of the assessment, but the excitement of being back in an Air Force uniform meant that he didn’t pace himself during the run, sprinting the first two laps. “The third lap I was little slower, and the fourth lap slower,” he recounts. “I picked it up a little in the fifth and that’s when an Air Force officer who just happened to be running on the track on his off day started running with me, pacing me and motivating me. I finished at about 13 minutes, and I thank him for that. He said I inspired him, but he inspired me. Just another testament to the Air Force family.”
Greene passed all his tests, and received word that he had been reinstated into the air force reserves on his flight home. “Words can’t begin to describe the emotions I felt when I got that phone call from the lawyer,” he said. “This whole process and my accident has given me a new outlook on life. I just tell people to appreciate every moment; cherish every day.”