A soldier's story - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

A soldier's story

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As we celebrate Veteran's Day we have an update to a story we first brought you 8 years ago. It's a story of courage, love and sheer determination. In 2004 Army soldier and Sylvania native Matthew Drake was critically injured when a bomb exploded in Iraq. 13abc's Lissa Guyton has been covering his remarkable recovery for years, and she spent time with him today before he spoke to students at a Sylvania Junior High School.

Lissa says it is amazing to see how much progress he's made since the last time she spoke with him. From the very beginning, Matthew's dogged determination has proved doctors and textbooks wrong.

He has a quick wit, an infectious smile and his story should make you proud to be an American, "No one comes home without scars both inside and out."

Matthew's world changed on October 15, 2004. He was driving an armored humvee that was attacked by a suicide bomber. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and the four other soldiers riding with him were killed, "Recovery from my wounds has been the toughest battle of my life. I was trained to be tough and I'm not about to quit."

Matthew spent several weeks in a coma. At first doctors didn't know if he'd live, let alone walk and talk again. Our cameras were with him in 2005 as he was going through his painful recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D-C. We also went to Omaha, Nebraska in 2007 as Matthew went through what's called post acute rehabilitation. His mother Lisa Schuster says the center taught her son to really live again,"There's surviving and then there's living and at first I thought my son had just survived, but now I know he's going to live, really live and be happy and I thought we'd lost that."

It's hard for most of us to imagine the painful and often difficult road he's traveled in the years since then but today he has two part time jobs and lives in the Ann Arbor area, "I am here, I'm doing a lot better and it feels great."

He speaks to groups about his experience and he's never lost his infectious smile and optimism,"Sometimes it's hard not to be able to do what I used to do and sometimes it's hard to admit that I have to ask for help but it's just the way it is."

As Matthew speaks to people about his life he says his most important message is to encourage all of us to never forget all of those who serve,"God bless America and God bless you."

Matt and his mom Lisa just came back from "The Stand up for Heroes" event in New York City.

They say it was an amazing experience to not only meet all kinds of famous people but to spend time with others who are going through the same things Matthew has been through. All of us at 13abc thank Matthew and all those who serve.

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