Skip to main content

Military Health System

Indiana National Guard amputee stays true to his motto - ‘Never Quit’

Image of Soldier with leg prosthesis putting on his shoe. . Sgt. Alex Woodsmall, a recruiter for the Indiana National Guard, demonstrates how he puts his combat boots on while in uniform at the Shelbyville National Guard Armory in Oct. 2020. (Photo by National Guardsman Sgt. Joshua Syberg.)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

The Indiana National Guard has been sending Hoosiers to war since the Mexican-American War in the 1840’s.

Life and limbs are often casualties. But the list of soldiers sent to war with less than four limbs is extremely limited.

Sgt. Alex Woodsmall is one of those soldiers. After turning a corner the machine he was driving veered into a large rack.

“Milliseconds start adding up. I let off the emergency-stop switch on the truck but the truck continued going the same speed, so I let go of everything. I knew if I jumped off the machine and got to this one spot where there were no pallets or present dangers, the machine would hit the rack, but I would be protected from it.”

Woodsmall nearly lost his leg from an accident at his civilian job, after his ankle got stuck between the reach truck he was driving and a support beam.

“I’m pretty sure the only thing that was holding it all together was my green Army sock I had on,” Woodsmall said. “First thing that kicked in was combat lifesaver skills to make sure I wasn’t bleeding out. Luckily, I only saw a few droplets of blood.”

After the accident, doctors were able to put him back together, but gangrene had different plans.

Four surgeries later, doctors had failed to contain the spread, and gave Woodsmall a choice - take half of his foot, amputate his foot at the ankle or amputate below the knee.

Despite the agonizing amount of pain he was in, Woodsmall’s first asked, “Which one will give me the greatest chance of staying in the military?”

After he was given his answer, his response was simple - ‘Lets chop this thing off.’

His below-the-knee amputation would give him the most mobility and the largest options of prosthetics, which would allow him to lift heavy objects and move effectively for his physical fitness and military occupation.

Two soldiers with leg amputations stand next to each other.
Indiana National Guardsman Sgt. Alex Woodsmall forms a unique bond with an Estonian soldier with the same leg amputation while deployed to Kuwait in 2018. Woodsmall deployed to Kuwait with the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Sustainment Brigade as a multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer three years after the civilian workplace accident that cost him his leg. (Courtesy Photo.)

Luckily for Woodsmall, four years before his accident he chose multichannel transmission systems operator-maintainer, a non-combat role, as his military occupation, which gave him a higher chance of continuing his military career. This, combined with the support of his unit, made him have an even more positive outlook.

However, after transferring to a medical detachment, his outlook began to change. He decided he would let his six-year contract expire and terminate his service with the Indiana National Guard.

The National Guard Bureau then notified him that he was no longer medically qualified to stay in the National Guard.

Since joining the military, Woodsmall kept his personal motto of “never quit” in the back of his head, and he wouldn’t let a piece of paper tell him he couldn’t succeed.

He discovered he had the option to write a rebuttal back to the NGB.

But Woodsmall decided he wanted to stay in the Guard and drafted a rebuttal to the decision. A year and a half from his accident he received the letter stating he could stay.

By happenstance, while attending an event with his wife prior to his medical board, Woodsmall met now retired Command Sgt. Maj. James H. Martin Jr., 38th Infantry Division’s senior noncommissioned officer at the time. Martin would then give Woodsmall a gift that changed his life.

“His story struck me very hard because here was a young man that had lost a limb and was afraid that the military was not going to retain him,” Martin said. “He had such a huge heart, and he was already saying, ‘I will do whatever it takes to stay in the military.’ While others throughout the Army struggled to pass the physical fitness test, he was adamant that he would pass the test. His wife was standing by his side so very proud of him. I did what any leader would do in this situation — do everything possible to save a soldier that wanted to make his mark in the Indiana National Guard. So I wrote a memo to retain Sgt. Woodsmall in the Indiana Army National Guard. I still follow him and his family, and I am so very proud of all of his accomplishments.”

The medical board ultimately let Woodsmall continue his military career, and in 2018 he deployed to Kuwait with the Indiana National Guard’s 38th Sustainment Brigade.

Currently, he serves as a recruiter for the Indiana National Guard, and uses his experiences and outlook to help new recruits understand the invaluable Army camaraderie and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Woodsmall continues to live and preach his motto — never quit.

You also may be interested in...

Horse Therapy Helps Wounded Service Members Find "New Normal"

Article
9/13/2022
Horse on left with ARNG Spc. Yesenia Flores, at an equine therapy program used by Fort Campbell's Soldier Recovery Unit.

Horse therapy is one way Fort Campbell wounded soldiers move toward recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Return to Duty: An SRU Soldier's Story of Recovery and Resiliency

Article Around MHS
9/12/2022
Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit insignia

Capt. Viola Howard, an Iron Guardian at the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, injured herself during her tour of duty in Germany and was transferred to Fort Stewart She set her mind to recover, rehabilitate, rebuild and ultimately return to active duty.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Mental Health Office Helps AUAB Members Maintain Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/30/2022
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo smiles for photo

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Spiritual Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Depression | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Anxiety | Stress | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Mental Health is Health Care

Unexpected Friendly Rivals

Article
8/24/2022
A woman helps a person lifting weights

The Brooke Army Medical Center Soldier Recovery Unit is more than where support for wounded, ill, and injured soldiers receiving rehabilitative care takes place.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Bulgarian Armed Forces Demonstrate Combat Medical Advancements

Article
8/22/2022
Two medics tend to a dummy in a simulated emergency.

Bulgarian Armed Forces showed off their combat lifesaving training to a U.S. delegation Aug. 10.

Recommended Content:

Education & Training | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Corpsman Care during Atlantic Ocean ops on MSC ship

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Military medical personnel performing emergency surgery

There’s a reason why U.S. Navy independent duty corpsmen are found assigned on isolated platforms from the wide expanse of the Indo-Pacific Theater to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Wellness Fair Showcases Ample Resources at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article Around MHS
8/2/2022
Military personnel demonstrating a grip therapy

Naval Hospital Bremerton hosted a holistic Wellness Fair in late July 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Nutritional Fitness | Health Readiness Support

Wounded Warrior Reconditioning Paves Way to Invictus Victory and More

Article
7/29/2022
An athlete rower

New veteran reflects on his experience at the last Invictus Games as a recovering service member and how DOD adaptive sports programs got him there and aided in recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Soldiers Not Immune to Damage of Sun's Rays

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Soldiers not immune to damage of sun’s rays

Some soldiers have a greater risk for developing skin cancer than others. For July’s UV Safety Awareness month, soldiers should be aware of their risks and how to reduce their chances of skin cancer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Summer Safety

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine, and the Birth of Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/25/2022
Military personnel in exercise drill on deck of Navy ship

Today’s U.S. Navy espouses a “culture of fitness,” and “physical readiness,” but this was not always the case. In the early 1900s, many including the president himself, Theodore Roosevelt, were appalled by the lack of physical conditioning in the Navy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

From Recovery to Resilience: Navy Service Member Shares His Story

Article
7/22/2022
Two people with a shotput

Navy RSM shares how military adaptive sport programs helped him during his recovery from cancer.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Family Care Plan Sustains Unit Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/20/2022
Military personnel hugs family member

A Family Care Plan (FCP) is a method by which the Army ensures a Soldier’s Family is taken care of when the Soldier is absent due to military requirements.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

DHA Program Supports Training Education of Future Medical Providers

Article
7/20/2022
Military personnel looking at display

The Clinical Investigations Program combines research and training to teach and develop the future clinicians of the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Health Care Technology | Health Readiness & Combat Support

Power Plate: Eat to Fuel Your Performance

Article Around MHS
7/19/2022
Infographic for Power Plate

Food is our secret weapon. When planned and executed well food can supply everything our bodies need to thrive, whether we’re running a marathon or taking a rest day.

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 43
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 20, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery