SGT (Ret.) Sue Downes*, USA
SGT (Ret.) Sue Downes grew up in a small town near Knoxville, TN. Downes had always wanted to join the military and after her husband was medically discharged from the service, she decided to enlist as an Army Military Police Officer in 2004. After basic training, she was stationed in Germany and deployed to Afghanistan in February of 2006.
In November of that year, Downes' unit was en route to deliver humanitarian supplies to a distant village. Roughly thirty minutes into the mission, her caravan was struck by two landmines powered by a Rocket Propelled Grenade. Her best friend and another member of her unit were both killed, and Sue was severely injured. The blast and took both of Downes' legs below the knee, lacerated her organs, and caused a traumatic brain injury. She was in such critical condition, it took her crew seven hours to remove her from the site. Medevac helicopters were grounded due to a blizzard, so Sue had to be transported in a Humvee across the bumpy terrain.
Downes was taken to Germany, and then Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for medical care. She has undergone dozens of surgeries, and in March of 2007 was able to start learning how to walk again. Sue's Traumatic Brain Injury made it so that she now suffers from headaches and short term memory loss. Since receiving her companion, Lila, Downes is also passionate about helping other veterans receive service dogs. She is a mother of 2 as well as a grandmother.
* Home Grant Recipient