Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - Sgt. David Kendrick (ret.) says he couldn't wait to get out Rochester when he was a teenager, but he wasn't entirely sure how. So he joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to Iraq in 2005 when he was just 19-years-old.
Less than a year later, Kendrick says a sniper shot him in both legs, causing severe damage in his left leg and leaving him immobilized for years.
"I couldn’t walk for 2.5-3 years, and I was in physical therapy for three years, and I was in the hospital for 3 months," said Kendrick.
More than a dozen surgeries later, Kendrick could walk again. But that journey wasn't easy.
"Letting me live was torture, because if I would’ve died right there on the battlefield - but instead he wanted to me to live and deal with pain every single day," he said.
After he could walk again, Kendrick returned home to Rochester. But he was faced with a new fight: Transitioning back into civilian life.
He says he was suffering from PTSD and addiction and sometimes had to sleep in his car when he struggled to back on his feet.
That's when he turned to Warrior Salute Veteran Services, a group which helps veterans like Kendrick shift back from military life.
"It just really helped me become David Kendrick, as opposed to Sgt. Kendrick," he said.
He said Warrior Salute helped find him a job, and a place to live. Kendrick says that laid the foundation for who he is today.
He says the group also helped him with his PTSD, which he still battles today.
"There’s a lot of invisible wounds that veterans are dealing with," he said. "It kind of helped me in the program talking to someone. It gave me a foundation where I was accepted."
Kendrick now lives in Atlanta. He works for Bank of America and owns a business which helps both civilians and veterans with speaking and resumé writing.
Link to video: https://13wham.com/news/local/local-veteran-thanks-group-for-help-winning-battles-after-returning-home