Organization helps veteran amputees find community

The US Department of Defense said 1,500 veterans lost limbs during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Knoxville, Tenn. — The sacrifice of American veterans is immeasurable. Many dedicate their lives to fighting for the freedoms of those left behind. Sometimes this commitment and sacrifice can mean lose something irreplaceable.

This is the case of Lantz Rossman. He lost a member but gained a community.

Rossman has always been active. He goes to the gym every day and enjoys exploring the great outdoors. He does all of this as a below-knee amputee.

Rossman, like many other amputees, lost his left leg in combat.

“I remember being in school when 9/11 happened. So it was kind of like a very, very formative thing in my childhood,” Rossman said.

He said it convinced him to join the army. He started in August 2009 as an infantry marine in Kings Bay, Georgia. He rose through the ranks and became a staff sergeant.

“It was interesting. It was dynamic. It was tough and it was all I wanted,” Rossman said.

However, one night changed everything.

“On August 10, 2019, I was involved in what is called a ‘close ambush,'” Rossman said. “So two guys with AK-47s came out of nowhere, basically. We had bad visibility and bad terrain. It didn’t work in my favor. So I actually got shot in left ankle.”

He was also shot in the right leg through his fibula and tibia. While the right leg healed, the left leg did not.

“I tried to salvage the limb for about nine months…then I decided the ankle wasn’t tenable. It just hurt all the time, and I didn’t have function,” Rossman said.

According to the US Department of Defense, approximately 1,500 servicemen have lost limbs in the wars in the Middle East. Rossman was one of them.

“I went ahead and just made the decision to amputate. Functionally, it was absolutely the right decision,” Rossman said.

While in the hospital, an organization called Semper-Fi & America Funds intervened. A case manager connected him with other amputees, who were able to listen, understand and help Rossman through the decision-making process.

“She hooked me up with a bunch of different amputees that she had known over the years, that she had met. It was good, from my perspective, to be freshly injured,” Rossman said.

These people gave Rossman perspective.

“Just kind of having the conversation of, ‘Oh, hey, you’re screwed. I’m screwed, let’s be friends together.’ That kind of stuff. It was really good,” Rossman said.

Thanks to the help of this community, Rossman was able to become active again. He said he thrives with his prosthesis.

Semper-Fi & America’s Fund raises funds alongside the Parson Foundation. For every dollar someone donates to Semper-Fi & America’s Fund the Parson Foundation matches that up to $10 million.

For more information, visit their website.

Aubrey L. Morgan