This past Monday, August the 7th was Purple Heart Day. The Purple Heart is our nation’s oldest military award. It was first introduced by George Washington in 1782 as the “Badge of Military Merit”. This award recognizes any United States Armed Forces member who has been wounded, killed, or has died after having been wounded while in combat. It is estimated that over 1.8 million United States military personnel have been awarded the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart Foundation had the opportunity to talk with one inspiring Purple Heart recipient in particular, Mike Cain. Mike is a double leg amputee who is originally from Wisconsin. He lives every single day with an attitude that is unparalleled, and a heart full of nothing but kindness.

In August of 2000 Mike enlisted in the United States Army. Mike explained that as a kid growing up he had been a bit of a troublemaker, and lacked respect for the adults and authority figures in his life. Something needed to change. Mike recalled a specific career day back during junior year of high school. On this particular day he spoke with an Army recruiter, resulting in the realization that the Army was the exact change he needed.Mike explained that joining the Army helped him develop into a man. A once timid and trouble making kid grew up and learned discipline and the value of hard work.

On August 10th 2003 Mike’s life was completely changed. He woke up in shock to learn that while in Tikrit, Iraq, his vehicle rolled over a double-stack anti-tank landmine. This event, almost exactly fourteen years ago, resulted in Mike being awarded a Purple Heart, and the beginning of learning to live a new life as an amputee.

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Mike explained to me that joining the Army has been a Godsend and he said it is “greatest thing I have ever done with my life”. It is something that both he and his family are proud of. As a Purple Heart recipient, Mike explained it is “the only medal that no one wants”. And though he is so proud of what he has done to support his country, he is not originally “proud” of his Purple Heart. He continued to explain that “at the time, [he] felt like a failure because [he] was sitting in the hospital while [his] guys were still over there fighting”. As time has passed Mike’s Purple Heart has developed into an honor, because it was for this country. If given the opportunity he “would still do anything and put [his] life on the line for this country”.

Coincidentally Purple Heart day and the anniversary of Mike’s injuries fall only a few days apart, making this week in particular a week of reflection. A chance to sit and reflect on how thankful he is to still be here fourteen years later, and how proud he can be for what he did for this country.

Though Mike’s service to the Army may have ended fourteen years ago, his service to this country was reborn. He continues to stay extremely active and supportive in the veteran community. He is a member of the USA Warriors Ice Hockey team, the Wounded Warrior Football team, and is training for the Paralympics. He has made a point to visit and talk with all of the new men and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center about joining different teams like this and getting back into the swing of life.  

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Mikes resilience and positivity is inspirational to say the least. Each day he wakes up with a better attitude than the day before. He has overcome every single obstacle that has ever been placed in front of him, and does so with unparalleled and contagious positivity. He understands how difficult it is for veterans and specifically Purple Heart recipients when they come home, so he is committed to helping as many of these men and women as he can.

The Purple Heart Foundation are also committed to helping every single man and woman who has served our country. It is our mission to help make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed for our freedom. You can show your support for these brave men and women by making a one-time or monthly pledge to ensure that ALL of our veterans, like Mike Cain, continue to get the support they deserve.