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Blinded Vet Swims Laps Around Adversity

Blinded Vet Swims Laps Around Adversity

Brad Snyder, a U.S. Navy veteran, won five Paralympics Games gold medals. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By    |   Thursday, 10 November 2016 07:24 PM

In honor of all those who have dedicated their lives to protecting America’s liberty, Newsmax is recognizing the heroic achievements and sacrifices of America's proud veterans.

A Navy veteran struck blind by an IED explosion in Afghanistan said he never lost hope of living a full and productive life — and his accomplishments prove it. Brad Snyder went on to become an author, and won five gold medals in the Paralympic Games.

What motivated him to pull off his extraordinary comeback? Snyder said he did it as a tribute to a close friend and fellow warrior, Tyler Trahan, who lost his life in Iraq.

"I really viewed it as somewhat selfish to indulge in a victim mentality . . . especially in comparison to my friend Tyler," he said.

Snyder, 32, was an EOD technician serving alongside a SEAL team in September 2011. He and other soldiers were helping evacuate two critically injured Afghans who had stepped on an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, when Snyder stepped on one himself.

"What saved my life basically," Snyder told Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg, "is that the explosion occurred just slightly in front of me as opposed to beneath me, and I was able to walk away from that blast. But unfortunately, I lost my vision as a result."

Snyder is author of the new book "Fire in My Eyes: An American Warrior's Journey from Being Blinded on the Battlefield to Gold Medal Victory."

After the explosion, the next thing he remembered was waking up in Walter Reed Hospital with a tube down his throat. He was on strong painkillers.

"I was able to kind of rapidly reconcile what had happened," he explained. "My job was basically to seek out explosives and attempt to render them safe. So, I was well aware of the risks of what might happen."

Snyder's motivation to overcome his devastating wound was his good friend Tyler Trahan, who had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

"He came back to the U.S. in a coffin draped with a flag on top of it," Snyder said. "He's now buried in the ground near where his mother lives.

"I didn't come back in a coffin. I came back with four limbs that work, a heart that works, a brain that works, and a family that loves me, and a whole lifetime of opportunity ahead of me."

Instead, the Nevada-born Snyder made a choice to excel in honor of his slain pal.

"I decided that I needed to embrace everything I had, as opposed to focus on the things I didn't," he said. "I needed a way to show people that.

"A lot of people wanted to put me in a victim box at that particular time. A lot of people were very negatively impacted by the news of my injury and the images of me in the hospital with stitches across my face and things like that."

Snyder had been captain of the swim team during his time at the U.S. Naval Academy. Soon he was splashing down the pool lanes like a human fish.

He qualified for the U.S. Paralympic team and competed at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio — winning a total of five gold medals and two silver medals.

Today, Snyder is the world-record holder among blind athletes in the 100-meter freestyle event.
 In addition, Snyder took home four gold medals for swimming and three gold medals for track and field events at the May 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I never could have imagined what it would become," Snyder said. "It really was just an opportunity to show folks I'm not going to be a victim — and it became something so much more."

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A Navy veteran struck blind by an IED explosion in Afghanistan said he never lost hope of living a full and productive life — and his accomplishments prove it. Brad Snyder went on to become an author, and won five gold medals in the Paralympic Games.
blind, Navy, veteran, IED
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2016-24-10
Thursday, 10 November 2016 07:24 PM
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