Life has taught Dozer Reed an important truth about the fabled glass of water: “The glass isn’t half empty or half full. You’ve got to appreciate that you just have water in the glass.”
That is Dozer’s daily attitude after years of recovery from a spinal cord injury sustained during his deployment to Iraq in 2005. Those years have included a divorce, painful therapy, and the loneliness that follows separation from the military. But they also brought him his close friend and fellow veteran, Joey Hooker, and a new shot at an engaging life through Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
“I found my cause,” Dozer says. “I’m a very positive person. That’s why God put me through the accident, because I had the strength to recover and start motivating other people.”
Dozer’s military service started in the United States Marine Corps, then later the United States Army National Guard, where he served as a medic. In May 2004, he was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Seven months into his deployment, on January 29, 2005, he was in a Humvee recovery vehicle that swerved to miss a barrier and struck a hole in the road. Dozer was hurled into the vehicle’s roof and his neck and back crumpled as he fell to the floor, gasping for breath.
Dozer continued to go on missions for the next five months, but eventually collapsed because of the damage to his back. Dozer was sent home to Louisiana, where he underwent six surgeries to repair his spine. After medical retirement, his marriage fell apart, and he lost his positive outlook on life.
“That’s where things went south for me,” Dozer said. “I was in a dark place. When I came home I had somebody, but then I had nobody. I was broken.”
Dozer’s search for help led him online to the WWP website, where he soon enrolled as an Alumnus. It was through a trip to WWP headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida, that Dozer connected with Joey, who also served in the Louisiana National Guard and lived in nearby Bossier City. The two share an interest in sports, have similar outgoing personalities, and love to help others.
“Once he stopped by my house to talk, we became very close,” Dozer said. “I could reach out at any time. Now we mentor each other when we have bad days. He’s such a good person. If people are judged by the company they keep, as long as Joey is around, I’m in good standing.”
Today, Dozer has recovered his positive outlook and stays in shape by swimming, biking, and running. Family keeps him grounded and serves as his lifeline. He’s plugged into the community as a coach for his son’s Little League team and as a proud supporter of his daughter’s cheerleading squad. He also acts as a Peer Mentor with WWP and takes advantage of every opportunity to encourage post-9/11 veterans to join the organization.
“I don’t do this just for me,” Dozer said. “I know what it’s like to be by yourself. It takes an entire community to heal a warrior – family, friends, and all the people who are around on a daily basis. You’ve got to cling to that hope and move forward. If you share that contagious positivity with them, it’s much easier to move forward.”