This is a big week for our country’s veterans. On Monday we celebrate the 233rd Marine Corps birthday, and Tuesday is Veterans Day. It's a time for our country to honor those who have served and are currently serving.
While some veterans have died for our country, others must live with life-altering injuries. NewsCenter 16's Sarah Platt catches up with one of those veterans, and this veteran happens to be a familiar face in the Michiana area.
Try to keep up with Danielle Green-Byrd and chances are she will give you a run for your money.
It has been about nine years since Danielle graduated from Notre Dame, after her years as a standout basketball player for the Irish women's team. But basketball is just one small chapter in this woman's life.
Danielle Green-Byrd is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a Purple Heart recipient with a very visible battle wound.
“This is reality, this is what happens in war, people get hurt, people die,” said Danielle in a 2004 interview with NewsCenter 16.
Four years ago, Danielle went through therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, getting used to life without her left arm. She was left-handed.
“It was May 25, 2004. Baghdad, Iraq. I remember this day very clearly. It was the hottest day that I experienced since I'd been there. It was 110 degrees, really didn't feel well when I woke up, just had this eerie feeling when I woke up,” explains Danielle, during her recent interview with NewsCenter 16.
It was on a mission that day that Army Specialist Green-Byrd lost her arm to rocket fire. “I never knew my arm was missing until I asked everybody, ‘Well why are you crying? Acting like somebody just died?’” says Danielle. “And I said, ‘Is my arm gone?’ and she said, ‘Yeah buddy, your arm is gone,’ and that's the first time I broke down,” explains Danielle.
But despite her challenges, Danielle isn't letting the tough times slow her down. She’s recently taken up the game of golf, with the help of her activity arm.
As if the game of golf isn't hard enough, imagine playing with just one hand, and the hand that isn't even your strength.
“Since the injury, I've taken a liking to it, forces me to be patient. Golf, just like having one arm, forces you to be patient with yourself, don't put too much pressure on yourself, that's why I'm beginning to like the game,” says Danielle.
Danielle is now 31. She says her drive to succeed has not changed, but her priorities have shifted a bit. She is now focused on a career in education and perhaps one day becoming a mom.
“I feel like the only thing missing is... I have a family, have a husband, but I really would like to be a mother, so we've been working on that, been 16 months now, maybe God is not ready for me to be a mother because I'm in school and I'm working, trying to work on a career,” explains Danielle.
Danielle is now working on a second Masters degree in education. She works in sports administration for Chicago Public Schools, and while she moves forward with life, her fellow veterans are on her mind.
“Just show your support, because there are a lot of people that are opposed to what we're doing, but you have to remember that we're volunteering to do that for other people's safety and freedom,” says Danielle.
Danielle says she has had ambitions to serve the country ever since she was a little girl. “I've always wanted to go to the military, since I was 7 years old, it was always the military or University of Notre Dame,” says Danielle.
And at the age of just 31, Danielle Green-Byrd has already achieved both of those dreams.
She says it's all about perseverance and rolling with the punches that life throws your way.
“Although I have a missing arm, I do feel more whole, it's like a inner peace. I feel good about life and what the future holds for me,” says Danielle.
In Part Two, we hear more about Danielle's job in the Chicago Public Schools and her thoughts on her former Irish coach Muffett McGraw. To read Part 2, click here.
Danielle also talks about the importance of remembering our troops, and what we can do to support them while they're overseas.