Jonathan Pruden knows firsthand what the Boston Marathon bombing victims have ahead of them. A director for the Wounded Warrior Project, he was a part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, where he lost a leg in combat.
“In all likelihood, it’s very similar, but the difference is they were civilians running a race, we were combatants in a war zone.”
Pruden, a Gainesville local, said he was one of the first victims of an improvised explosive device in Operation Iraqi Freedom – an event that has changed his life.
One night in 2003 while driving his Humvee through Bagdad, he hit an IED and a gunfire attack. The attack left him with countless pieces of shrapnel all over his body, a softball-sized hole in his back and a mangled leg.
That night would mark the start of a life-long journey for Pruden. Over two years, he had 19 surgeries at seven hospitals before doctors decided to amputate his right leg.
He said his experience is one that many of the marathon bombing victims will also endure.
He encourages victims to focus on their own recovery and not on what others say or want.
“Don’t set unexpected expectations for yourself,” Pruden said. “Don’t feel that anybody’s expectations are your own.”
Pruden said he works with hundreds of wounded warriors across the southeast from Missouri to Puerto Rico and that because of the use of IEDs in the Middle East and the increasing number of soldiers injured by them, a community support network has developed here at home.
“I’m happy to be a part of the Wounded Warrior Project and this support system,” Pruden said. “We would be happy to work with any of the victims, answer any of their questions about losing a limb.”
He said the bombing victims should surround themselves with family and friends who can support them on their journey.
“It will be a long journey for all of them,” Pruden said. “A lifelong journey.”
Casey Christ wrote this story online.