PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – Rolling over eight acres of peaceful property in Portland, all belonging to Stephanie Vazquez, the medically retired Army Sergeant reflects on how far she’s come. “I couldn’t dream these things. I couldn’t even dream these things! I could have been killed that day.”
An intense firefight in Afghanistan in 2011 changed everything for the single mother. Eighteen surgeries couldn’t save her leg. Her spine and several organs were also severely injured. Vazquez dove into a deep depression. “My life has forever changed. What am I going to do?” she remembered thinking.
It’s what others did, those not in uniform, that gave Vazquez a renewed drive and desire to live. “Civilians try to understand and want to be there for you and embrace you,” explained Vazquez.
Volunteers with the organization Freedom Alliance were the first to reach out. “That woman hugged me tighter than anyone in my family has ever hugged me,” a tearful Vazquez remembered. “I’ve never felt that. At that moment, my healing started.”
Fast forward, she received an unexpected call from football star Jared Allen’s non-profit wanting to build Vazquez a home. “They called me and were like, we need you to pick out a garage door,” she laughed. “Does it go up and down? I don’t care. I’ll take it!”
Vasquez’s third blessing came from a Tennessee family with Freedom Alliance, the Gilberts, after learning caring for her horse and property had become challenging. They donated an all-terrain motorized chair and the presentation took place at a Nashville landmark. “I’m going to stand on the stage of the Ryman,” a laughing Vazquez recalled.
Overcoming the lingering stress of war – News 2 looks at what’s being done to help those who have served keep their voices heard in special reports all-day Veterans Day, in every newscast, and on wkrn.com.
Not only did she grace the stage, a song Vazquez co-wrote thanking those who supporter her played. With the hook “Every day I thank God for blessings like you”.