Name: LCDR Miguel Cruz
Branch of Service: Navy
Wish: Become a Master Scuba Instructor
of Goal Raised
On February 2004, he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At that time he was a member of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14. One of his missions was to support the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines in Hussayba, Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The forward base was constantly under fire (direct and indirect) or under surveillance by enemy forward observers. Such an environment didn't allow for formations or large gatherings in the open. Because of this, incoming convoys with materials had to be offloaded very quickly in order to avoid attacks. Early morning on June 30th, his detachment received a convoy of construction materials. Due to enemies positioned close to the base and the high probability of an attack and previous attacks under similar conditions, the team had to rush the unloading. He was unloading near one of the trailers when a forklift was lifting the top pallet of HESCO barriers (approximately 1,000 Lbs.) from the opposite side of the trailer. The forklift operator at that time didn't realize that he was also lifting the pallet on the other side. One pallet fell from the trailer and crushed LCDR Cruz to the ground. He was taken by MEDEVAC from Hussayba to Baghdad, then to Germany and finally to Bethesda Naval Hospital. He was diagnosed with lower back fractures (L3, L4 and L5), left knee injuries (complete tear of PCL and MCL), a cracked rib, and a hip injury. He spent a month in the hospital recovering. During his recovery, he was diagnosed with PTSD. He was discharged from Bethesda Naval Hospital, and placed on convalescent leave until further notice.
Due to the fractures to my vertebrae, he is not able to do many basic tasks without crippling pain. Sitting and standing for long periods of time bring about numbness in his legs and severe pain in his back. Two of his permanent injuries have left him in a state of constant pain. His PTSD has given him severe insomnia and worsening depression.
Miguel grew up in Puerto Rico and has always had a love for the water. His dream is to become a Master Scuba Instructor. This requires years of training and diving certifications. Being in the water is much more comfortable for him given his physical injures. The peace of mind while diving helps him out tremendously with his psychological injures. Through the GI Bill, Miguel is able to get 50% of his tuition to achieve Master Instructor covered leaving him with a lot of the expense to cover out of pocket. He also needs equipment to achieve the highest level diving certification.