When the war in Afghanistan began ten years ago, some of the most grievously wounded troops have come through Brooke Army Medical Center, a sprawling green campus less than 10 miles from downtown San Antonio.
BAMC, as the troops call it, has long been home to the Department of Defense’s top burn unit. Then 2007, 600,000 people donated money to fund the Center for the Intrepid, a state of the art rehabilitation center for wounded warriors who wish to return to a highly-active lifestyle.
The Center for the Intrepid is a one-stop shop where wounded troops undergo physical therapy and occupational therapy; the center has in-house prosthetic engineers who design and make everything from carbon fiber legs to robotic arms in house. TIME took an in depth tour of this facility where teams of doctors, nurses, therapists and case workers are helping troops wounded in combat return to their lives. Many are participating in endurance events and are working to return to active duty.
In any other war, troops with lost and shattered limbs would leave the service and attempt to return to their lives as best they could. Now, hundreds of them are returning to active duty — parachuting out of airplanes, jumping out of helicopters and returning to combat in Afghanistan. “It’s a pretty amazing place,” says David, a Special Forces deputy team commander who nearly lot his leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and underwent rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid. “They’re manufacturing miracles there at BAMC.”