SAN ANTONIO — Army Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris has used his scars to help other veterans and inspire thousands of people since 2007. He sustained devastating injuries on February 19th in Iraq. He was traveling in an armored vehicle with 5 other soldiers, when they were hit by an IED. The driver and Harris were the only ones who survived the explosion.
“700 pounds of explosives blowing off underneath you. The blast was literally right here. I could have put my hand on it. How did I survive?” said Harris. “Obviously through that, I was injured severely. Most important about that story was that I lost 3 friends that day.”
A third of Harris’ body was burned, he lost several of his fingers, his nose and ears. He had to undergo 80 surgeries. During his time at Brooke Army Medical Center, Harris said he would greet other wounded military members.
"I didn't seek out wanting to be a motivational speaker. I really didn't. I did what I do around the hospital in bandages," he said. "I'd usually be one of those faces that would welcome them to the trauma center and what they may be facing on a day-to-day basis."
Throughout the years, he said he’s learned to wear his scars and doesn't focus on what's on the outside.
“I've tried to steer away from how I look. What was more important is how I feel. I feel very successful in my recovery. I feel very proud of my military service and I feel very blessed with being back home,” he said.
Harris began speaking at events and eventually, he made it into a career. Now, he travels across the country as a motivational speaker. Harris said his family and faith have helped him every step of the way.
“I’ve always looked at this, as God gave me tools. He gave me the tools to go out there and meet people and represent a tragedy turned into a blessing,” said Harris. “A lot of it has been because of the grace of God. I've been absolutely blessed.”
Harris is celebrating another blessing in his life. He will be getting married to his fiancee, Jamie PK. The ceremony will be broadcast live on television. The couple will be featured on “My Great Big Live Wedding with David Tutera” on Lifetime. The show will give dream weddings to eight couples that have remarkable stories.
“Many people need hope in their life and it's nice that there's going to be a show that provides hope for people not just for love but after something unique or tragic has happened,” said PK.
She first, got connected to Harris because one of her best friends happened to be his care nurse at BAMC. PK said in the beginning, she wanted to help Harris in his career.
“He asked me out several times but I said nope. Working relationship only. I'm sorry, don't want to mix business with personal. But one night, in a flooded storm, he asked me out in a really romantic way. and I couldn't say no,” said PK.
The couple works together to continue helping veterans. They have several projects in the works.
"You surround yourself with tribes throughout your life and this new chapter in our life and journey together is to bring joy to as many tribes as we can," said PK.
“I’m so proud that she's been in my life. We've been working on a book, we've been working on another movie, it’s like a whirlwind and it’s all happening at once,” said Harris.
You can catch the couple’s live wedding March 12th, 10 p.m. ET/PT. If you would like to get more information on Harris and his initiatives to help veterans, click here.