Walking to the "Promised Land"

Walking to the 'Promised Land' Staff Sgt. Jonathan Hannaman at the Center for Intrepid Fort Sam Houston, Texas. (Photo courtesy Jonathan Hannaman)

By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Virginia - When you see Jonathan Hannaman hobbling with his cane one might wonder the roads he's traveled and what stories that cane could tell if it could talk. It might surprise you to know that the 31 year old Staff Sergeant from Buckeye Ariz. is a wounded warrior. He had two deployments in November 2005 and again in 2011, both to Iraq but neither had anything to do with his injury.

The Army Reserve Soldier assigned to the 225th Military Police Detachment is a full time Police Sergeant for the Buckeye Arizona Police Department where he supervises a patrol squad of six police officers. He has a career in law enforcement. His work in the Army includes Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in the US Army Reserve. He graduated from CID Special Agent Course in July of 2010 and worked as an Investigative Agent, Protection Agent, Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Drug Suppression Team, and finally as his Unit's Detachment Sergeant where he worked as the senior enlisted advisor to the Commander.

Last July there was to be a year-long deployment to Ft. Belvoir to provide executive level dignitary protection for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Department of the Army, Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army, and Deputy Chief of Staff. It never happened for Hannaman.

On July 6, 2016 while on a visit to see his girlfriend and her family in Florida before the deployment, his life would change forever. A car quickly swerved into his lane right in front of his motorcycle and slammed on brakes. From the accident, he received a broken femur that came out of his skin, his tibia and fibula both broke and came out his ankle.

"I never thought that I would be in this situation. Being in the Army, having deployed to Iraq twice, and also being a police officer, I always knew the danger and threat of injury was there. I always relied heavily on my training and tried to maintain the best situational awareness I could to avoid situations like this. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to react to this situation to avoid the impact," said Hannaman.

"I remember opening my eyes laying on the ground scanning to see what was going on and I was trying to pick up my leg….I saw the damage, I needed a tourniquet stat….I started my combat breathing to slow my heart rate."

The six foot six physically fit law enforcement officer was now the most vulnerable he'd ever been and he had to worry about more than himself. His girlfriend Whitney was on the back of his bike and suffered a broken leg and elbow.

To save his leg, Hannaman had three different surgeries at hospitals in Halifax and Orlando, Fla. and transferred to the Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Battalion in mid-August to begin his recovery and rehabilitation.

All of his therapy would now be through the Center for the Intrepid. Hannaman was amazed at the array of resources available for Soldiers who are not able to return to duty and are currently in the medical board process. The WTB offers financial class, resume writing, job fair, internship programs, veteran affairs transition and more.

Since arriving at the WTB Whitney was allowed to join him as his Non-Medical Attendant. As a NMA, Whitney is paid daily Per Diem to be his home health care attendant. She arrived at Fort Sam Houston in September after her broken leg and elbow healed. Since then, she has assisted with his daily living. "She has also helped me mentally due to the fact she has given me the strength to accomplish my daily activities and therapy, even on the days where I wasn't feeling well or didn't want to get out of bed," said Hannaman. To have a good family support system has been a vital role to my rehabilitation."

There was an even bigger epiphany for the career police officer.

"This accident has completely humbled me in the process of teaching myself how to walk again, I understand the intense amount of effort it takes to accomplish the daily activities I once used to do with no effort," he said. I am extremely thankful to everyone who has assisted me during this process; hospital staff in both Texas and Florida, the WTB at Fort Stewart, Georgia and the WTB here at Fort Sam Houston.

He has a ways to go but knows he is getting closer to Phoenix his "promised land."

His goal is to continue therapy and either obtain a return to duty status or transfer outpatient physical therapy to Phoenix, Ariz. by the end of 2017. Hannaman says finishing his rehabilitation will be even easier in Phoenix because his children and family are there. He looks forward to purchasing a new home with Whitney and starting the next chapter of their lives with his children. He is walking to the Promised Land.