Brother's recovery inspires wounded warrior to share story of courage

The brothers nearly died in separate occasions fighting in the war but their greatest test of courage happened at home

Deven Schei has spent a lot of time reflecting on his life.

A life he almost lost not once, but twice.

The 29-year old nearly died in Afghanistan fighting for our country and a second time by his own hand.

Deven's story starts years ago when he was a teenager and made a promise to his older brother Erik as they got tattoos just before Erik joined the military.

"He leaned over and said if anything ever happens to me I want you to finish what I started and without hesitation, I said yes."

Erik enlisted in the Army and eventually deployed to Iraq. In 2005 a sniper shot Erik in the head.

He died three times but doctors were able to bring him back each time.

He was in a coma with a breathing tube.

Deven says his family refused to give up on Erik especially when doctors failed to find a scan showing he was brain dead.

None the less the family was told Erik would never talk, walk or eat on his own but he defied the odds.

Erik can now eat solid food and can talk with the help of a computer as shown in a recent Wounded Warriors Project video.

During Erik's recovery, Deven made good on his promise and joined the Army in 2010. Just a few months into his deployment in Afghanistan, he was hit by four rockets.

Deven lost portions of his thigh and calf, cartilage in his back and knee, sight in his left eye and suffered a severe brain injury.

"I needed medication to go to sleep, stay awake during the day, pain medication. You name it I tried it," said Deven.

The pain from his injuries and knowing he would never be able to fight for his country took a toll on Deven's mental health.

Deven became addicted to painkillers and slipped into a deep depression.

"My uniform meant more to me than anything. They could've taken anything away from me as long as my uniform was sitting there I would've been fine. I was now sitting in a hospital knowing that my uniform was cut off. I had no more identity. I was no longer a soldier. I was no longer anything. Everything I earned in that uniform was taken. I just didn't want to be there anymore."

Deven shut out his family and friends and attempted suicide that Christmas Eve. Fortunately, his  family intervened just in time.

"My dad said he would take care of me and he stayed awake for the rest of the night."

Deven has no memory of that dark night but it was a turning point. He threw out all of his pills and looked to his brother for inspiration.

"He relies directly on my mom for to eat, sleep, use the restroom and just about everything else and yet wakes up every morning with a smile on his face. The enemy took a lot away from him the day he was shot but what he didn't take away was his will to live."

It took two years for Deven to pull out of his depression.

"I found a new normal. I found different ways to deal with my anger."

One of those ways is working with the Wounded Warriors Project as a motivational speaker sharing his and his brother's story.

"I'm able to share his story and share his struggle but share how happy he is and  share the fact that he took his pity party candle and blew it out and threw it away."

He hopes to inspire others to pull through dark times.

"Life is hard. Life is going to throw you curve balls but it's how you take that curve ball and what you're going to with it that counts."

(© 2016 KENS)


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