Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Wight on His Son with Severe Brain Injury
[Aaron Wight] My name is Staff Sergeant Aaron Wight, United States Army Recruiting Command. [Staff Sgt. Aaron Wight - US Army Recruiter, Father, and Caregiver] I was deployed when it happened, and prior to the brain injury I was deployed a lot before that happened. So I did miss out on quite a big portion of Michael's life prior to the brain injury. I make the best of it. It is what it is. I can't change it. There's nothing I can do to make him, quote-unquote, normal. He is who he is, and he is happy being who he is, and I am proud that he is happy, that he is who he is. The military has actually done a really good job by me helping me deal with all of this. Prior to the accident, I was in a job in the military that required me to be overseas as much as I possibly could. I was a combat infantry soldier, which is I was GI Joe. I was overseas, I was kicking in doors, and I was chasing down the bad guys. I'd be gone for 6, 7, 8 months to a year at a time. And after the accident happened, there was no way that this family would have been able to stick together as well as we have with me being gone for an indefinite amount of time and in the back of everybody's mind knowing what I did, knowing that there was always that chance that I wasn't going to come home at all. So they were gracious enough to let me pretty much choose my own path in my military career after that. I decided that the best thing to do would be to become an Army recruiter. I loved being in the infantry. I loved every minute of it. But I loved being in the Army even more, and I didn't want to hang up my uniform, I didn't want to put my boots away, I did not want to hang up my beret and enter a 9:00 to 5:00 job where I had to wear a suit and tie every day. That's not who I am. I'm a soldier and I have been since I was 20 years old, and I plan on being a soldier until the day I retire and continuing to support the military and my country through other means, whether it's federal service or just wearing an American flag on my hat while I'm fishing. But they let me become a recruiter. And because I'm a recruiter, I am non-deployable so I will not go overseas. My mission here is more important because I need to provide the strength for the next generation of the Army. And the Army let me do that, so I'm eternally grateful for them and can't wait to retire one day and give back in other ways. Michael is one of the happiest and most friendly kids I have ever met. It surprises me that everywhere I go with Michael, somebody knows him. Me and him will go out to dinner because it's a girls' night and Nicki took Mackenzie to the movies or they're at the mall or they're going to a sleepover or something along those lines. So it's just me and Michael. So we'll sit down and we'll go out and we'll figure out a boys' night. We'll go to the diner and come home and watch a movie. But no matter where I take him, whether it's to the store for a Slurpee, to the diner, to a movie theater, he knows somebody, somebody knows him. And I always hear it in the background, "Dad, that's Michael. He goes to my school." And I look and I'm like, "Oh, are you in Michael's class?" And they're like, "No, I just see him in the hallway and he always waves and blows kisses." He is the happiest, most fun kid that I've ever, ever had the privilege of being around.
Posted on BrainLine December 4, 2013.
Produced by Christian Lindstrom, Justin Rhodes, and Amy Joseph, BrainLine.