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Ability not disability

Almost nine years later, some soldiers fight tears as they recall the bright flash in Tal Afar that transformed Olson. Such is the affection they retain for the soldier they joke is lucky he didn’t lose his trigger finger.

“Some people succumb to their injuries and let their injuries and their wounds become who they are,” said Jones, who left the Army, and runs “Not Alone,” a non-profit aiding soldiers and families struggling with PTSD. “Some people thrive off them.”

Prompted by Olson’s success, the Marksmanship Unit plans to add 24 wounded soldiers as instructors and competitive marksmen in October.

“The most remarkable part isn’t that he survived that day,” Dycus, the physician assistant, now stationed in Germany, wrote in an email. “Instead, it is what he has done with himself every day since.”

So, the boy who dreamed of being a soldier, and the sergeant who thought the dream was finished as he lay in a hospital bed, now has his face staring down a rifle on an Army recruiting poster.

“SFC Olson,” the poster reads, “exhibits ability rather than disability.”

He’s home.