Broadcasting from the
in San Antonio, Texas Jan 25. 2017
(Ret) Army Master Sergeant Todd Nelson
“In 2007, after serving 17 years on active duty, I was wounded in Afghanistan when I was hit by a suicide bomb that detonated less than ten feet from me. My life was instantly changed as I adjusted to a new normal. I now spend my extra time telling my story to others as asked, in order to give hope to those facing hard times.”
“Today, with God’s grace and mercy I have been selected from among 700 others to be employed by USAA, a Fortune 200 company and one of the country’s most military friendly employers (G.I. Jobs) to assist other wounded warriors find employment. Because of the experiences I faced in 2007, today I appreciate every day I am given and cherish every moment of life like never before. I am excited for the challenges and opportunities that await me!
About Retired United States Army Master Sergeant Todd Nelson
Freedom isn’t Free
I am Retired United States Army Master Sergeant Todd Nelson. In 2007, after serving 17 years on active duty, I was wounded in Afghanistan when I was hit by a suicide bomb that detonated less than ten feet from me. My life was instantly changed as I adjusted to a new normal. I now spend my extra time telling my story to others as asked, in order to give hope to those facing hard times.
Feel free to look around. Start with Our Story and Sarah’s Journal to read a little of our background. Then take a deep breath and take look at the Photos page.
Next, visit Sample Speeches for examples of how we have inspired others as well as news articles, videos, thoughts, and events.
If your organization would be interested in booking an opportunity to hear my story first hand and learning how they can turn challenges into triumphs, please fill out our request form via the Book an Engagement page. Potential speech topics include:
Inspirational: Do It Again! Rising From The Ashes
Inspiration to continue on after being knocked down.
Military Support: They laid it all on the line for you, what are you willing to do for them?
Keep your organization focused on it’s support efforts.
Faith: Will you be ready for game day?; Taking steps of faith; Building a strong foundation
Encouragement to start your walk with GOD, TODAY!
You will be amazed at what we are capable of overcoming when we have a dream! As you look around you will be see how God has helped me not only to recover, but do so abundantly by educating and inspiring people all over the world! Be sure to check back from time to time as there will surely be updates to the site as opportunities arise!
It was just another day in Kabul, Afghanistan. My team and I had been overseeing the logistics system for the Afghanistan National Army for 10 months and we were scheduled to begin redeploying in just a few weeks. It was August, so the weather was fair, if not on the warm side. We had just visited our largest logistics depot and we were headed back to our base camp, Camp Eggars, for the evening. Just another day in Afghanistan, shortly before August 27, 2007.
That particular day our senior NCO was unable to join us, but we did have our senior warrant officer, and a fellow Sergeant First Class and Romanian Major in our two-truck convoy. We always travelled in at least two vehicles at all times. My fellow Sergeant First Class partner and I were travelling in a silver Toyota Land Cruiser.
My partner, as fate would have it, chose to be driver that day and I would ride shotgun, a decision that would change my life forever. We were being followed, as was the standard, by my warrant officer and the Romanian Major travelling in a small Ford ranger pickup behind.
We were always prepared for the worst. We wore all our protective gear, from helmets, eye protection, fire-retardant gloves, body armor and more. We always travelled with constant communication with our trail vehicle and our higher headquarters with secure radios. We each kept our M4 Carbine and M9 pistols with magazines in, a round locked and loaded, and a full combat load of ammunition.
We travelled at a high rate of speed to prevent anyone attempting to attack us. We kept a vigil lookout at everything from building tops down to suspicious vehicles with even so much as a weighted rear end. None of this could prevent what happened that afternoon.
As we travelled down Jalalabad Road at a high rate of speed, we were suddenly forced to slow down behind a vehicle and a large truck as they pulled into the road. As we began to accelerate past the small vehicle, all that my driver recalls is looking past me and catching the other driver’s expression of wide eyed terror. The next, and only, thing he recalls is something black flying across his field of vision — most likely my eye protection being blown off my face. The next account of the situation comes from our trail vehicle. As they recall, our vehicle in front of them suddenly became engulfed in a black cloud.
This was my truck. The side in the photo is the side I was sitting in.
It happened so suddenly, they drove straight through the cloud only to find our vehicle no longer ahead of them. As they swung around they caught sight of my vehicle in the opposite lane, facing backwards. They hustled back to my truck and the Romanian rushed to help as chief notified headquarters. The driver, sustaining the least of the injuries, had stumbled in a daze out of the vehicle but I remained in the truck. Since my side of the truck was directly next to the explosion, the door was jammed shut, and I laid there in the flames and smoke, unconscious. My Romanian friend wrenched open the door, and reached through the flames to unbuckle my seatbelt and pull me out of the fire.
My wife, Sarah, praying for me while I was in critical care.
The next account is of the sheer confusion. There was little left of the other vehicle leaving the crew to wonder where the explosion had come from. As I laid there, unconscious, my warrant officer secured a perimeter around the scene. The weapons that were left in the vehicle continued to burn, and the rounds inside the vehicle started to detonate, or, “cook-off”, further adding to the utter confusion. Once they realized where the sounds were coming from, they took refuge behind a building and looked at me.
Although there was little hope, my warrant officer ordered that the driver and I be loaded into the back of their pickup truck and taken to the nearest military base, Camp Phoenix. There, they provided life support, started me on a ventilator and began to evacuate me to Landstuhl, Germany.
My retirement ceremony, giving my last speech on active duty.
Over the course of the next three years I underwent over 20 life-saving surgeries and 20 reconstructive surgeries to rebuild disfigured facial features. During this time I faced many obstacles. I was forced to tackle my fears including losing my sight, never being able to walk or run, play sports, drive a car and more. In spite of it all, I held on to my dreams. I remained active in the daily activities of my unit, completed three years of higher education, pursued my love of golf, cherished my family and friends, and began my public speaking career.
For an intimate look at the daily trials I came across, visit Sarah’s journal.
Today, with God’s grace and mercy I have been selected from among 700 others to be employed by USAA, a Fortune 200 company and one of the country’s most military friendly employers (G.I. Jobs) to assist other wounded warriors find employment. Because of the experiences I faced in 2007, today I appreciate every day I am given and cherish every moment of life like never before. I am excited for the challenges and opportunities that await me!
In 1922, when 25 Army officers met in San Antonio, Texas, and decided to insure each other’s vehicles, they could not have imagined that their tiny organization would one day serve millions of members and become one of the only fully integrated financial services organizations in America.
We believe they would be pleased to know that USAA has remained true to their founding values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity.
At USAA, we are passionate advocates for military members and their families. The same core values that guide our military inspire USAA employees to go above and beyond for our members each and every day.
So it should come as no surprise that our members and employees share a strong and lifelong bond based on the military experiences and values we have in common.
At USAA, we understand that bond better than anyone else. We have built a team of military leaders who deepen and strengthen that bond day in and day out. USAA’s Military Affairs team is comprised of retired officers and senior noncommissioned officers who dedicate themselves as advocates for those who are currently serving in our military, all those who have honorably served in the past and their families.
This team of professionals represents each of their services as well as the nation’s Guard and Reserve forces and are responsible for creating and sustaining relationships between USAA, our strategic partners, military leaders and military-related organizations so USAA can engage, serve and advocate for the military community. They know what it means to serve so USAA can better connect with and support our military members.
Thank You to:
Angela Salyer www.comfortcrew.org
Bob Deschner www.vettriip.org
For Helping Me on this Trip to San Antonio, Texas
Thank You to the following for making our Programs possible:
Bill Wischnewsky (ret) Army Special Forces
Owner Lightning Graphics in Columbus, GA
Colin Clark with
The pallet System to replace wood!
Eric Chia www.talkingwithheroes.com webmaster.
Leadership with www.r4alliance.org