Subject Matter Expert
When Deven Schei’s brother, Erik, was first deployed to Iraq, Deven made him a solemn vow: “If something happens to you while you’re over there, I promise to finish what you started.”
Tragically, something did happen. Deven’s brother was shot in the head, rendering him a quadriplegic. Deven kept his promise and joined the United States Army, determined to stay true to his word. He says becoming a member of the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division was one of his proudest moments. But just as fate dealt its hand to his brother, Deven’s deployment ended in injury.
“I was hit with four 80mm rockets,” says Deven. “I lost a portion of my left calf, a portion of my left thigh, and had shrapnel all over my body. I had a slipped disc, cartilage missing in my back and knees, tendinitis, loss of eye sight in my left eye, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI); I was left with all of these things.”
Even with more than 17 surgeries, Deven’s physical pain, frustration, and anguish were not what affected him the most.
“My greatest challenge was not being with my battle buddies. Leaving them in Afghanistan was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Not being able to go on missions with them or train with them always haunted me. I kept up with them all the time, calling and emailing to make sure all missions went well and everyone made it back in one piece.”
It’s that kind of dedication and connection that drives Deven to help his fellow wounded service members today as both a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) spokesperson and a member of the National Speaker’s Association.
“I want other injured warriors to understand there is life outside of the military. My brother Erik is the perfect example. He motivates me to keep going every day. He never lets anything get him down.”