Christopher Carver, Purple Heart Veteran, VA Hospital Employee of the Year
Christopher Carver talks about the conversation, with a smile. He also walks the walk, but with a limp, a slight hitch. Still, he’s not letting his disability slow him down. After all, he has earned it and is using it to succeed in life.
Some 20 years after joining the military on 9/11, Carver’s heart and commitment to serving his fellow veterans, along with his professional savvy, earned him the honor of being named Employee of the Year. 2021 for Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff VA.
The journey home from fighting overseas was anything but easy in 2007. “I went from being a patient no one expected to live to becoming a therapist and now I work alongside the same people who brought me to life. helped motivate and train me to serve my fellow veterans in VA,” says Carver. “In the military, I was taught to always keep improving my fighting stance. I carry this ideal into all aspects of my life.
Carver is the Medical Center’s Military Specialist 2 VA (M2VA) serving hundreds of veteran patients seeking to navigate the healthcare system. It also helps them learn to make full use of their acquired advantages.
Carver was a reconnaissance squad leader for the Army’s 25th Infantry Division and he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. While on a mission, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. The explosion threw the truck and its crew 25 feet into the air, flipping over and crashing into Carver and his team.
“My shooter lost his arm, another squad member was seriously injured and another fled,” he said.
Doctors at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany called on his pregnant wife and parents to fly from Spokane to Europe to say their final goodbyes.
Carver would remain in a coma for two months. Later, he was transferred to VA’s Poly-Trauma Center in Palo Alto, California. There, the family chose to try a device (not approved in the US) called Nova-Lung. The device circulates oxygen through the body of patients in a coma.
“I woke up in July 2007 at the brain injury center at VA Hospital Palo Alto,” Carver said. “I spent almost a year there. Once the doctors allowed me to use a walker to attend the birth of my first daughter.
He had to relearn how to walk, talk, eat, sit up and take care of himself. He thanks his wife Laura for her unwavering support, including working full time while he was a stay-at-home dad.
After graduating from Eastern Washington University with grades that placed him on the Dean’s List, he worked for the Wounded Warrior Program. Then his dream job arrived.
“I want to give back through VA.”
“I took a job at Mann-Grandstaff VA where I had spent so much time as a patient,” Carver said. “Now I help veterans get VA services. Although I didn’t have the professional knowledge, I had the first-hand experience as a patient. I had been able to get through this huge life event and come out the other side. Now I had a chance to show others how to do the same. I want to give back to the world who did so much to help me at a time when I was depressed and needed someone to help me. This experience changed my view of the world. My family, my VA care teams, social workers, and fellow veterans make all the difference, and now I want to give back through VA.