My name is Josh Maley. Since the age of 6, I knew I wanted to serve. Living in a patriotic family, I was an “Army brat,” with a lot of admiration for my dad, who was U.S. Army Airborne infantry. I enlisted just a few days after high school. By 19, I was a decorated airman and aircraft mechanic dedicated to safeguarding the lives of the pilots I served. I can still remember what it felt like to hear the aircraft firing up and see the flames shoot into the sky before takeoff.
But my life took a turn. I was diagnosed with a very rare form of Multiple Sclerosis that impaired my vision and left me unable to walk. At the young of age of 22, I had to accept that I would live the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I’ve always been a happy go lucky guy, but accepting my diagnosis was a real hard time in my life. When I was first diagnosed with MS, I was stunned and became severely depressed because it was such a sudden change. The MS also triggered an allergic reaction and I was in and out of consciousness for a month.
Then I became more involved with PVA and began connecting with fellow Veterans who have MS and other spinal cord disorders. PVA gave me a lot of confidence to live. Because of PVA and my therapists, I am ten times more active now than I have ever been in my entire life, even in the military. I cannot tell you the last time that being in a wheelchair stopped me from doing something.
Today, you might find me picking the banjo, listening to bluegrass with my wife Melissa, or running two or three miles a day with my service dog, Nina. I’m at a place in my life now where I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been, which is really weird because I’m in a wheelchair and you probably wouldn’t expect that. I’m confident, I am successful, I’m happy, and I get to do stuff that I’m passionate about. My goal is to see the people who aren’t there yet, get there.