Jerry Majetich feels the price of his service to his country every day.
The former Army psychological operations specialist left Iraq with burns over his entire face and scalp as well as 37 percent of his body. He sacrificed both ears, his nose, and fingers on both hands. During a firefight that followed the IED blast, bullets found his shoulder and leg. His spine was fractured in three places.
But it was worth it for Jerry.
“I’m a pretty simple guy,” he says. “I love my family. I love my country. I served my country, and I wish I could have done it again.”
It’s a sentiment that runs in the family. Jerry’s mother served as an Army nurse during the Korean conflict. Five older brothers also served in the Army. To buck the family tradition, though, Jerry initially enlisted in the Marines, which allowed him to see much of the world. Eventually, he separated from the Marines and moved on to the Army, because it offered opportunities to reach more of his personal goals.
As a member of psychological operations, Jerry’s job was to create goodwill through engaging local Iraqis and collecting information about insurgent activity. Through his team’s hard work, they were able to close down several locations for building roadside bombs and two propaganda centers.
“My job was talking to people, building goodwill,” Jerry said, “and I absolutely loved it. It taught me how much you can accomplish when you treat people like people.”
That didn’t sit well with the enemy. Jerry was injured during a cordon and search of south Baghdad to look for weapons and enemies. The convoy was creeping along instead of its usual 60 mph pace, which gave plenty of opportunity for the enemy to detonate a roadside bomb. The insurgents responsible were eventually caught and they had pictures of Jerry and his vehicles on them.
After the explosion and ensuing firefight, Jerry was sent stateside for treatment and eventual medical retirement. Today, Jerry works as a stockbroker for a company that provides training and employment opportunities for injured veterans.
“It’s my whole reason for taking my job,” he says. “When I first decided I was too young to retire and I could go back to work, I started looking for jobs. But as much as people like to deny it, my physical appearance was a factor when I interviewed for jobs.”
Jerry is a big proponent of two Wounded Warrior Project programs that foster economic empowerment: TRACK ® is the first education center in the nation designed specifically for Wounded Warriors and Warriors to Work™, which helps injured service members transition back into the civilian workforce by providing career counseling services and job placement assistance.
“With the TRACK program, WWP is starting to prepare people for the future,” Jerry says, noting one of his biggest post-injury concerns was his own future. “With TRACK, and Warriors to Work, they’re progressing in the right direction to prepare people for their future, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
After more than 60 surgeries over eight years, if Jerry looks back, it’s only to remember those who helped him on his journey.
“I’ve been through a lot,” he says, “and I’m still kicking. I’m not going to give up. I never will. The minute you sit down and stay down, you may as well just throw in your cards, because you’re done.