Bay Area & Western Board member Jessica Greene eagerly followed in the footsteps of her father, a retired infantry officer, and joined the U.S. Army ROTC at the University of Tampa. She thought she had her whole life figured out, setting her sights on pursuing a career as an officer.
But then a car accident during training broke her neck and left her in a wheelchair. The life change was sudden and devastating. But Jessica had a secret weapon on her side: her upbringing.
“When we were kids, dad taught us there was no such word as ‘can’t.’ It was a huge inspiration for me. So when this injury happened, I didn’t say ‘I can’t,’ I just said I’m going to do things a different way.”
This positive attitude and helped her overcome the initial shock and disappointment of, ‘This wasn’t supposed to happen to me,’ and she began to look at this new way of living as a challenge, as something to overcome.
Jessica’s father introduced her to PVA, and she says the organization has helped keep her connected to other injured veterans.
“PVA’s work is important because it's a way to have everybody stay involved and stay connected. We always feel like we have somebody we can turn to. “
She says PVA has also helped her understand the benefits she is entitled to, and has helped her fight for them.
Jessica is a self-described optimist, and it is her goal to share camaraderie and information with others, so that each person motivates the other. This goes back to the values she grew up with.
“I know some people have a problem with being called an inspiration or hero after their injury. The way I look at it, if something that I do gets somebody to do one more thing or step out of their comfort zone, then I'm okay with it, you can call me an inspiration,” she says.
“I am always hopeful,” Jessica says. “It’s going to be okay.”