Tim Hornik lost his eyesight. But his vision for how to help others is stronger than ever.

Veteran’s Day shares an entirely different meaning for Tim Hornik, who was shot in the head while serving in Iraq on this day, 15 years ago.

The 40-year-old lost his vision after a severe injury while serving as a Captain for the U.S. Army. Since then, the father of two and husband has found new meaning to his life, through his family, friends and helping others.

On November 11, 2004, while assisting the Iraq National Guard with security a raid, he was shot in the head by a sniper, causing severe visual impairments.

“I woke up on November 12th, 2004 to celebrate my 25th birthday by being alive, still,” Hornik said.

He spent the next several months getting surgeries and recovering, waiting to see what the next chapter of his life would hold. His wife, Cate Smith, said that this period was difficult for them. As newlyweds, she said their “relationship hadn’t really gelled yet.”

Hornik was able to stay on active service for several years after his injury until another opportunity came to light —to get his Masters in Social Work at the University of Kansas, while remaining on active duty.

Both Hornik and Smith credit this chapter of their lives for the positive outlook that Hornik has today.

Since he was completely blind in one eye — with limited vision in the other eye — Smith had to help her husband read his assignments. Through this, she says that she was lucky to get a similar education, which helped their relationship. She says that the communication classes were key — and helped them work through their issues.That’s when they started working as a “unit.”

Hornik said that one of the strongest ways that they had to work together was when his first child, Abby, was born.

“It was one of those steps forward that allowed me to really say, ‘I need to change things.’ I need to switch my life around and understand that we need to work together in order to make sure this newborn in this world has a life I would like her to live.”

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Source: Emily Slawek/today