2014 Invictus Games, September 10-14, London, United Kingdom

Spc. James Jay Leeroy: Academic success marks a victory over adversity

By: John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Care and Transition

U.S. Army Spc. James Leeroy leaps in celebration after attaining his Bachelor of Science degree in forensics at the University of Maryland. Wounded in a pre-deployment training exercise the cannon crewmember was assigned to Walter Reed Warrior Transition Battalion where he learned how to move forward in both setting and achieving his goals. (Photo courtesy Walter Reed WTB)

Shortly after his having been born in the pristine paradise of Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines and Indonesia, U.S. Army Spc. James Jay Leeroy and his parents moved to Hawaii. At age 19 he followed in the footsteps of a number of his family members and joined the Army, becoming a cannon crewmember.

During a pre-deployment training exercise a mortar round unexpectedly detonated, resulting in bilateral injuries to both of Leeroy’s hands as well as the amputation of his right thumb. He was then assigned to Walter Reed WTB where he set upon his recovery and managing his active duty Army career.

Also at Walter Reed, and under the supervision the WTB’s physical therapists, trainers and sports coordinators, Leeroy discovered adaptive sports such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, cycling, swimming, and rowing. In addition he enrolled at the University of Maryland and began his pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree in forensics, eventually graduating summa cum laude.

By overcoming obstacles and in finding within himself the ability to envision a brighter future, Leeroy was surprised at his own personal strength.

The key, according to Leeroy, was in viewing his problems as surmountable, saying, “I changed how I interpreted and responded to these unfortunate circumstances. I accepted that my tragedies were a part of me, and that enabled me to move forward all the while maintaining a positive attitude.”

In addition to tending to his physical rehabilitation Leeroy remained diligent in his academic pursuits. “I had always been interested in forensic crime investigation,” says Leeroy, “and I wanted to use my time at Walter Reed WTB wisely, making it my mission to graduate college.”

Resiliency is an important concept to Leeroy. To him it represents the ability to recover quickly from adversity, trauma and tragedy. “Once I nurtured this positive view of the circumstances and myself, I was able to look for opportunities of self-discovery and move forward towards my goals by taking decisive actions for myself,” says Leeroy.

His next target for decisive action will be in gaining admission to George Washington University where Leeroy would like to secure a master’s in forensic psychology or digital forensics. He views these as both a perfect fit for where he wants to be professionally as well as yet another stage of his “bounce back” from adversity.

According to Leeroy, “I believe everyone has in them an ounce of resiliency tucked away somewhere. They just have to know how to tap into it.”

Warrior Care Month 2016

WCM Events

Monday: November 14
  • Joint services Wheelchair Exhibition
Wednesday: November 16
  • Hiring Heroes Career Fair
Thursday: November 17
  • Joint Services Sitting Volleyball Tournament


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