'Bad Day at Work' Just Another Day for Marine
The scars are a testament to what he calls "a bad day at work." A 2006 improvised explosive device attack on the Light Armored Vehicle he was riding in while deployed to Iraq burned 40 percent of his body and shattered his left ankle. Although the explosion knocked him down and changed his life, it didn't change his outlook on life, and it certainly didn't keep him down.
"I knew from day one that I was going to get through this," said Marine Corps Master Sgt. Blaine L. Scott.
The 20-year veteran "Devil Dog" recalls the 18 months he spent at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio--Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He spent three months as an inpatient at the center where, as soon as he was able to, he began a rehabilitation program that consisted of countless hours in the rehabilitation gym.
"They [physical therapists] would tell me to do 10 and I'd do 20. They'd tell me to go 100 meters and I would go 200," said Scott.
It was that determination that got him promoted to Gunnery Sgt. in 2009 and back in the fight to support the overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan in 2010.
Nowadays Scott spends his time as the Staff Noncommissioned Officer in Charge at the San Antonio Military Medical Center Marine Corps Detachment assisting wounded Marines during their hospitalization and rehabilitation at the Burn Center and SAMMC.
"We oversee the non-medical side of the Marine's stay here," he said. "From admin [leave, pay, accountability, etc.] to assisting their families and making sure they have everything they need during their stay here."
Mentoring and leading Marines in battle as an infantryman is what Scott was trained for and did for many years. But now, instead of being a platoon sergeant overseeing 40-plus Marines in a LAV reconnaissance unit, he is ensuring that wounded Marines have the best healing environment possible and that their personal and professional issues are taken care of.
"I feel I owe it to them," said Scott. "I know exactly what they are going through. When they first get here their future is uncertain. They don't know what's going to happen to them. We help teach them how to survive their new life. And that's exactly what it is [a new life]. Their lives will never be the same no matter what type of injury it is--from a minor or major burn to an amputation. It's a new life for them. I've been there--my life has never been the same."
"As a combat-wounded Marine and former patient, Master Sgt. Scott is an extremely valuable asset to motivating wounded, ill and injured Marines to return to full duty or to reintegrate into their civilian communities," said Lt. Col. Richard Riley, Marine Detachment Officer in Charge. "He understands the intricacies and healing process for Marine patients and their families. He is also knowledgeable of the resources available to Marines during their rehabilitation process and knows how to synchronize those resources on behalf of Marines to help them focus and remain motivated to reach their goals."
Scott was able to reach his goal of getting through his injuries and staying active duty, but he had some help along the way--his wife and kids.
"If it weren't for them, I probably wouldn't be here," he said.
Not only did Scott spend countless hours in the gym rehabilitating, but he also had a routine at home of taking care of a newborn and his wife.
"My son was born a few days after I was discharged from the hospital," Scott said. "Believe it or not, taking care of a newborn is a lot of physical therapy."
Scott said that even though taking care of a newborn was challenging, he didn't mind since his wife had just had a cesarean section and especially since she was the main reason for his recovery.
"She'd push me around on a wheelchair to my appointments and hit me in the back of the head when I needed it," he said. "She kept me going and kept me strong. She's a strong lady."
The support from his family and the Marine Detachment while he was a patient was key during his recovery phase and returning to work. Since being released from the Burn Center, Scott transferred to California to the 1st Marine Division (Division Schools) and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force with an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan. After returning to California from the deployment and up for orders, Scott was given the choice of transferring to Washington, D.C., Hawaii, or San Antonio.
"I picked San Antonio because I knew this was a good place for me to come and give back to what was given to me when I was here," he said. "I just want the wounded Marines to know that they'll be fine. I've been there. My life has never been the same and it wasn't easy, but I made it through and they can do the same."
Being able to give back to the wounded Marines and their families is not only what Scott is doing, but also his wife Lilly.
"It's unbelievable what she does for the wives," he said. "The wives are forgotten about a lot, and they are going through as much as the Marines. It takes a strong woman to get through something like this and they do a phenomenal job. I'm proud of all of them and I let them know."
Scott will be leaving the active-duty ranks and retiring in 2014. At this point he doesn't have any plans for a new job, but he knows that the family will settle in the area and doesn't have any regrets.
"Do I have a good life? Of course I do. I enjoy what I do and where I've been. I would never trade it for anything," said Scott. "Even the day I got injured."
The most important thing that he wants everyone to know is that he does not want anyone to feel sorry for him. "I had a bad day. I choose to be here and I choose to do this. I'd do it all over again. It's what I do. So even though you're injured or having a bad day, don't let it keep you down. You gotta live life to the fullest."