It’s absolutely insane that 22 veterans a day commit suicide. And I get it. After my injuries, I went to that dark place. A year after, literally a year after, on June 23, 2013, I tried doing the same thing. And if it wasn’t for my family and my loved ones, my friends, I wouldn’t be here. My name is Kirstie Ennis. I’m 25 years old, and I was a sergeant in the United States Marine Corp. In June 2012, on my second deployment to Afghanistan, my helicopter went down. My whole world literally was flipped upside down in the blink of an eye. I just remember people calling my name, and I tried to stand up and my leg buckled underneath me. And I remember one of the Army medics, he came over, and he said, “Don’t close your eyes because you’re not going to open them again.” As a result of the crash, I’ve had 38 surgeries. Soon to be 39 surgeries. Two years of speech and cognitive therapy, mental health, and it’s still not over. Chronic pain is a part of my everyday life. Tomorrow at 7:15 in the morning, I am going down to the hospital in San Diego, and I’m going to have my left leg amputated below the knee. In an effort to improve my quality of life. Today I’m going to spend my day just walking. I want to feel the things that I’m not gonna feel again. Walking on the beach today just in the sand, putting my feet in the water, walking through the grass. Even putting my feet in ice. It might sound pretty minor to most people, but it’s not gonna be there, I’m not gonna be able to do any of these things again. Like experience it with a piece of my body. It’s been a long road, and I’m ready to overcome it. Today’s November 23rd, and I’m at Naval Medical Center San Diego where they took care of me from the get go. And I had my leg amputated below the knee. There it is. I’ve resisted it for a long time. It’s not like I said, OK take it, in the very beginning. You know, I tried the fusion. I did all the bone grafting. I’ve tried the IDEO. Like, my mind and my heart is at ease because I can honestly say that I tried. Today is December 4th. I woke up, and the pain is slowly but surely subsiding. I do have to take a lot of nerve pain medicines still. As you can imagine, after the nerves are severed, they’re still firing, trying to figure out what’s going on. So that’s what’s causing me the most pain. I’m really looking forward to getting out of this silly hard cast. It’s really complicating everything in my life. But aside from that, taking it in strides still. I’m really looking forward to getting up and walking. Seeing my leg for the first time was an interesting feeling to say the least. You know, you’re excited on one hand to be able to see it all come together and realize what everybody’s been working toward for so long. And at the same time, you look down and it’s like butterflies in your stomach. The thing that I’ve had for the last 24 years is no longer there. But to see it healing and to know that it’s progressing is a remarkable feeling. My husband and I actually flew out here to be here for her surgery, which was scheduled for November 23rd. And then a couple weeks later, it got infected. She was trying to clean the wound and the incision area and stuff, and fluid was just draining out of it with a foul odor and that kind of thing. So we just went straight to the ER and when she was there, they decided emergency surgery. That she was septic and that it was life-threatening. I mean, I was devastated when they told me they were going to take my knee. When you take away your knee, that’s a game changer. There’s so much that goes into walking now. Simply walking. I wish I could put into words just how serious it is. It’s night and day between the amputations. I won’t say it limits what I can do because I can do whatever I want to do. I just have to think about it. But it does take away a lot. Kirstie’s had a lot of surgeries over the past few years actually. I haven’t been able to be out here for all of them. But definitely glad I was here for this one. You never want to see your child in a position like that. That’s the toughest part is just not really being able to do anything about it, but just trying to be here for support. I wouldn’t be here without her. I wouldn’t be here without any of my family that was in the hospital with me. I went kicking and screaming into the operating room on December 23rd. And I didn’t want them to wake me up. When they told me the severity of what I was dealing with and how bad the infection was, I didn’t want to deal with what was to come later. Having her here has kept me grounded. Having her here has helped me maybe slow it down a little bit. She’s really been here to hold my hand through all of this. And sometimes that’s all you need. To know that you’re not alone. Brian’s been the one to really deal with more of the emotional side of things. Because I’d be lying if I said that this was easy. From day one, it’s been difficult and it’s been a challenge. He was the one that was there when I got a lot of the bad news. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. *laughs* I don’t think people realize the process. Right? I didn’t know you would have to make me a jumper. There ya go. Standing up. I’m crying. It was really amazing to see how well she walked. I thought all of it would be more of a struggle for her. But she really got up and, she had to think about it first, but after a few practice steps, she was just going. I guess that’s kind of like she was when she was a child. Just like, watch out because I’m ready to go. Being able to walk today was pretty much exactly what I needed. And the timing couldn’t have come any better really. I was still trying to wrap my head and my heart around everything that happened. To this day, I still have nights where I’m crying because I’m frustrated with everything. You know, I grab my leg, and it’s not there anymore. I was struggling with where I thought I should be. And you know, I need to learn to take it down a peg and realize that I have to be patient with this. I’m different than I was five months ago, but I’m the same person. I felt beautiful with two legs, and I may have gone down a slippery slope while I was dealing with all of this. But whether I have one leg, whether I have no legs, if I’m stuck in the chair and so on and so forth, I’m still beautiful. It’s important for me to know that what I’ve gone through and what I’ve yet to face was for something. I am happy. I’m extremely proud of everything that I did in the military. I’d do it all over again, if I could. That’s what I signed up for. I would lay my life down for the man or woman that stood next to me. And at the end of the day, I’m thankful that it happened to me. It happened to me because someone somewhere knew that I could handle it.