Jack Zimmerman joined the Army in September 2009 after he graduated from high school in Minnesota.
After he completed basic training, the Army assigned him to the 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Learning how to jump out of aircraft and attending Airborne School are among Zimmerman’s favorite memories from his military career.
He deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province in 2010 during Operation Enduring Freedom. While Zimmerman was in Afghanistan, he engaged frequently in combat. Nine months into his deployment, while conducting foot patrol, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Zimmerman suffered life-threatening injuries. As his fellow platoon members engaged in combat, the platoon medic and some other platoon members worked to keep him alive. Zimmerman eventually went to the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Texas, where he underwent 20 surgeries in two years. He lost both legs.
He received a Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained, as well as the Army Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
In October 2012, Zimmerman medically retired from the Army. He struggled with learning to live with his disability and deciding what he wanted to do for a living. He originally planned on his military career lasting much longer.
Zimmerman became a motivational speaker after another Veteran encouraged him. He noticed the power his story had when telling it in more informal conversations.
He said he feels lucky that he received support from his fellow Veterans. Zimmerman advises people to remember that a career is what a person makes of it and to the importance of doing a person’s best every day.
He currently lives in Minnesota with his wife and children, where he enjoys hunting and fishing.
Thank you for your service!
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Jewel Luckow
Editor: Em Thampoe
Fact checker: Crystal Moore