Trauma Survivors Network - provided by ATS

Survive. Connect. Rebuild.

A Program of the ATS

Bruce's Story

In February of 1985, I was in a single car accident which left me a C6-C7 incomplete quad.

But first, a little back ground. I was born in Michigan, to a very hard working family.

My Dad was a coffee salesman who would get up early, go to work till 5 or 6, come home to do some work in the yard or play catch with his sons, and then he would still have some work to do, placing orders . His Dad was a barber and would get up and walk down to his Barber shop and work till 5.

My Mom grew up in Missouri with her 12 brothers and sisters and her Mom and Dad. They were share croppers so she worked in the fields, picking cotton .She was also a hard worker.

I tell you this because the main point is that hard work was a foundation in my life. We never slept in, we always had to be working in the yard (which was 5 acres) or in the garden. I was always working. That foundation of hard work has followed me and helped me through my whole life.

At the young age of 18, I joined the United States Coast Guard, where once again I worked and worked hard. Three years into my tour, I had my car accident.This February I will have been hurt for 30 years. Since I was in the Coast Guard, I was sent to the Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa, Fl. There I had to work and work it was. They pushed me in therapy. They taught me how to live and how to do all my basic daily tasks which was hard but I pushed through by working hard.  My roommates, who also taught me and mentored me, made me realize that my life was not over; that I still have a life and I need to live it. This is also where I meet my wife, she was my nurse. She tells everybody she made me better and then brought me home. That was 30 years ago and God has truly blessed my life since then.

Coping with my injury was hard at first because I was in my early 20’s but like I said, I come from a hard working background, so I pushed, I worked hard and I got better. Now I try to never let anything hold me back. I have owned and rode a four wheeler, been horseback riding, kayaking, skiing, jet skiing and now one of my favorites things to do is hand cycle. I ride everywhere I can.  

If I could give any words of encouragement, they would be: enjoy life, laugh, and don’t take yourself too seriously. I am always laughing, especially at myself. I do some funny stuff.  I always try to meet new people and experience new things.


These days I share my message of encouragement as a Peer Visitor for the TSN at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I share with new survivors and their family members that there is life after trauma.