Aubrey Youngs Hero Story
Five-year-old Aubrey Youngs dreamed that she would become a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. “I found out my eyesight wasn’t quite good enough at the time, which just completely ruined my hopes and dreams.” But she said she continued to have dreams of joining the military.
It wasn’t until shortly after 9/11, at the age of 20, when she went to her local Army National Guard and signed a contract as an 88 Mike, a motor transport operator, and started her military career. “I joined because I’ve had this urge to be a military officer most of my life, not just because of 9/11.”
In 2004, Aubrey was deployed to Afghanistan where she worked in a warehouse doing inventory control and supply measures. Six-months into her year-long tour, while on a forklift stocking shelves, Aubrey slipped and was tossed over the edge of the shelf and sustained a paralyzing injury. “The forklift driver thought I was ready, my foot slipped as he started to move and it tossed me over the edge of the shelf and completely separated my spinal column at the T-10, T-11 level, and I’ve been paralyzed from the waist down ever since,” she said.
After her injury, Aubrey was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, for surgery. While there she had a spinal cord fusion operation where two rods were inserted to run the length of her back. After a month and a half she was transferred to Jefferson Barracks VA in St. Louis for continued recovery and rehabilitation.
There she was introduced to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “The Paralyzed Veterans representative was with me from the get go at the St. Louis VA center. Fred Bradley would come in every Thursday and speak with me; I learned what Paralyzed Veterans was, who it was, who was involved and became a member of the local Paralyzed Veterans, the Gateway Chapter.”
Because of Paralyzed Veterans, Aubrey was able to discover life after paralysis. “Immediately I was involved with Paralyzed Veterans,” she said. “They started talking to me about what I could do as far as the sporting events and other events that Paralyzed Veterans does.” Aubrey credits Paralyzed Veterans with being “a big part” of making sure veterans recovering from spinal cord injury have opportunities. “I really appreciated that and couldn’t believe that they do all that they do.”
Aubrey participated in her first wheelchair sporting event at the 26th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, copresented annually by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She began by competing in table tennis, archery and nine ball. At the 2009 Games year she added basketball and bowling. “I wanted to venture out this year and become a lot more independent and a lot more athletic.”
Currently, Aubrey is in graduate school at DePaul University in Chicago. “I’m getting a master’s in game development where I really hope I can use my game developing knowledge and the concepts behind it to develop simulations for people who need to undergo rehab in various disabilities.”
Paralyzed Veterans is a nonprofit organization and is financed solely through donations from generous and caring Americans.
To learn how you can help our paralyzed veterans, visit www.pva.org.