When Sgt. Josh Hargis lost both legs to explosions in Afghanistan, he worried about his unborn son.
“There was an internal struggle with me because I didn’t know what kind of dad I was going to be,” the Army Ranger explained.
Five years after he was injured, Josh is the father of two young boys and his newest goal is to train for the Paralympics and bring home a gold medal for Team USA.
Josh, 28, first made headlines in 2013 when, seemingly unconscious in a military hospital, he lifted his hand to salute the American flag as a Purple Heart was pinned to his chest. His wife Taylor posted a photo on Facebook and it went viral.
Although he would go on to make a full recovery, learning to live as an amputee was a struggle for Josh. Things changed when a physical therapist suggested he try sled hockey.
“Once he started playing sled hockey, he started to come out of that negative mindset,” Taylor said. “It was less of a downer, because every day he was getting better and better.”
Josh had trouble at first — “it sucked,” said — but came to find it freeing.
“You really don’t have a disability when you’re on the ice,” he said. “Everything is adapted for us, so we’re not restricted by our environment. We get out, we start skating on the ice, and it’s just total freedom.”
The Semper Fi Fund sponsors Josh with its Recovery Through Sports program, covering expenses for travel, lodging and training equipment. The support allows him to focus on training five days a week without an additional financial burden.
The help means the Hargis family can live their new normal with their two boys, Whalen, 4, and Lowell, 2.
“Our boys have a unique perspective on life and what it really means to live your life to the fullest,” Josh said.