Chances are good you’ve never met anyone quite like Luke Murphy. And he’s proud of the things that set him apart.
“I always wanted one,” Luke says of his Purple Heart medal, “but not like this!”
The retired Army infantry staff sergeant sacrificed his right leg above the knee in 2006 following an improvised explosive device detonating next to his vehicle.
“I’m proud of my Purple Heart,” he says. “I don’t wear it on my shirt, but it’s displayed in my office.”
Through nearly a year of hospitalization and 28 surgeries, Luke has remained focused squarely on the positive. “You’ve heard it all before,” he says, “it’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do. If you’re a person who’s going to complain your whole life because you’re not wealthy, then you’re going to have a crappy life. It’s the same thing with my situation. I can complain about not having a leg, or I can do something about it and make the best of what I’ve got.”
Luke found inspiration in a backpack he received from Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) following his injury. The backpack came with comfort items to help Luke immediately, but it also came with some long-term benefits.
“After a couple of years I realized the backpack was an unlimited source for knowledge, and tools to overcome anything and be successful,” Luke says today. The knowledge and tools Luke refers to are the programs WWP offers to the current generation of injured service members.
Luke recently graduated from Florida State University and is active as a motivational speaker. “I speak about overcoming adversity,” he says, “about leadership, and about the power of having a positive attitude. I’m not the first to go through hard times, but I have done it well. Some people find it inspirational.”
Luke has also participated in several Soldier Ride® events in America and Europe, and has benefitted from the camaraderie enjoyed on countless hunting and fishing trips provided by WWP.
“My biggest fear while on my back in the hospital bed was I would not be able to do the things I loved anymore,” says Luke, an avid outdoorsman. “But WWP got me involved in some outdoors events and they showed me otherwise.”
Luke describes the programs as “life-changing” and “uplifting”. That’s a big factor in his decision to publicly share his story and successes – he’s graduated from Florida State University and is now a realtor specializing in timber investments and recreational land – with others.
“I don’t like to hear about guys who aren’t doing well,” he said. “I will tell them I’ve been there. I’ve been in the wheelchair; I’ve been in the hospital; I’ve been in the prosthetic device; I’ve been on the ground in combat and shot at. My brain dwells on the positive instead of the negative.”