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 n 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 2 or 3 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.
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.