Advancing National Service

When a Wounded Veteran Needed to Get Back on His Feet, This Toy Helped

July 3, 2014
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When a Wounded Veteran Needed to Get Back on His Feet, This Toy Helped
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Dave Flowers hands out Nintendo Wiis to fellow service members. But that's not all this spirited man does to help out vets.

Who better to know what a veteran needs to recover after being injured than a fellow wounded soldier?

Back in 2010, while Dave Flowers was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, following the loss of his leg and several other injuries, he began playing the Nintendo Wii Fit at the suggestion of his physical therapist. “Within about nine days of just playing that thing every single day, not even very long, just a couple hours a day, I was able to start walking with a walker, and then a few days later just two canes,” he told Michelle Basch of WTOP.

Because the game helped him find success, Flowers created the program Wiis for Warriors to provide free Wiis to other vets.

Flowers won a Bronze Star Medal for his valor in Afghanistan. In 2009, when he was a Staff Sergeant with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, he was clearing a weapons cache site with his team when he stepped on a mine. His left leg was shattered and he lost his right leg below the knee, but he prevented fellow soldiers from being injured when he fell back into the hole the blast created.

Flowers’s selflessness doesn’t stop with his actions on the battlefield or Wiis for Warriors. Now living in Mississippi, he started the Dave Flowers Foundation as a way to honor and assist wounded veterans of a prior generation who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“I know for a fact, told to me by my surgeon, if it wasn’t for the field medic tactics generated during Vietnam, I wouldn’t be alive,” Flowers told Patrick Ochs of the Sun Herald. “I kind of feel like I owe those guys a little bit…When you’re told that in Vietnam they would have stepped over you because they couldn’t have saved you — they developed those techniques because of the people in Vietnam.”

Flowers’s goal is to help older veterans in southern Mississippi with any needs they have that aren’t covered by VA benefits. He notes on the foundation’s website that some older veterans are reluctant to ask for help because of pride or past negative experiences when seeking assistance.

“I’m alive because of a different generation,” he told Ochs. “You have to help them.”

We couldn’t agree more.

MORE: This Amazing Nonprofit Helps Wounded Warriors Rebuild Their Lives

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