Two years after losing his legs to an explosion in Afghanistan, Army Dan Berchinski is getting around on the latest prosthetic limbs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Scott Fontaine, my predecessor here at FOB Tacoma, profiled the soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in November 2009, focusing on his initial recovery at Walter Reed. This week, Berchinski’s one of three service members featured in a magazine story showing soldiers learning to live with prosthetic arms and legs.
“My wounds are healed now and I don’t suffer chronic pain, and I’m thankful for that,” he says. “I drive a car and I go to my job two days a week in Arlington.” He has an internship with a Defense Department program called the Joint IED Defeat Organization. “I’ve been to South Africa for the World Cup and I’ve pretty much figured out my new life, and I hope these new legs will continue to open up opportunities for me.”
After months of rehab, he’s gained confidence but knows there’s still a long way to go.
“I’m aware that if I lose my concentration and lean backwards a little bit, it’s game over because I can’t step back to regain my balance. On normal legs, you can walk and talk and chew bubblegum at the same time. But you probably can’t do all three on prosthetics. You have to focus on walking because if you fall down with robot legs, how do you get up?”