Member, Board of Directors
In 2002, Melissa Stockwell graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army’s Transportation Corps. In March 2004, she deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division to Baghdad, Iraq. Just one month later, Ms. Stockwell was on a routine convoy when a roadside bomb hit her Humvee. The blast resulted in the amputation of her left leg above the knee, making Ms. Stockwell the first female to lose a limb in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). After spending a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, she was medically retired from the Army. For her courageous service, she was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Following her retirement from the Army, athletics became a way of life for Ms. Stockwell. She completed multiple triathlons and marathons on an arm crank bike, learned to ski, and became a competitive swimmer and – most recently – a paratriathlete. In April 2008, Ms. Stockwell became the first OIF veteran to qualify for the Paralympics when she earned her spot on the US swim team. In the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, she represented the US in the 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle, and 100 butterfly. She was also selected to carry the American flag in the Beijing closing ceremonies. After Beijing Ms. Stockwell turned to the sport of triathlon. She became part of the 2010 and 2011 paratriathlon national team and won both paratriathlon world championships becoming a two-time world champion. Ms. Stockwell was also named the 2010, 2011, and 2012 paratriathlete of the year.
In 2008, Ms. Stockwell completed the prosthetic practitioner program at Century College in Minnesota, where she learned to fit other amputees with artificial limbs. She currently works as a certified prosthetist at Scheck and Siress Prosthetics in Chicago. She is also a level 1 certified triathlon coach and is a co-founder and coach of the dare2tri paratriathlon team in the Chicago area that helps athletes with disabilities compete in the sport of triathlon.
Ms. Stockwell joined the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) board of directors in 2005 and loves giving back to the organization that has helped her so much throughout the years. She credits WWP with getting her out of her hospital bed and onto the ski slopes, which made her realize she could still do anything she wanted to do – one leg or two.
Ms. Stockwell has been featured in several significant media outlets. The most recent include CNN, Sports Illustrated, the cover of USA Triathlon, and a Hartford commercial during the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament. She was also featured in a documentary called “From Baghdad to Beijing,” which chronicled Ms. Stockwell and three other wounded veterans on their journey from the roads of Baghdad to the Paralympics in Beijing. She also works as a motivational speaking and hopes to inspire others to overcome any obstacles that come their way.
Ms. Stockwell is a proud American and has done more with one leg than she ever imagined she would do with two. She is a lover of life and looks forward to what the next couple of years will bring.