On June 17, 2010, Senior Airman Aubrey Hand was sworn into the United States Air Force Reserve as a Security Forces member. In spring of 2012, he voluntarily deployed to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan for route and culvert clearance, compound and village searches, base attacks, presence patrols and working with Afghan National Police and Army.
While on a mounted patrol of route and culvert clearance, an IED was detonated under Aubrey’s vehicle, causing serious damage to his left foot and brain. He was diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), tearing of the Achilles damage, fractured heel, and all of the bones in the joint were destroyed. The TBI caused persistent headaches, memory recall issues and decreased vision.
Aubrey was aerovacked to Landstuhl, Germany, for physical and mental assessment, was deemed unfit to return and was sent back to his duty station at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He spent the next four years in occupational and physical therapy, undergoing several medical procedures and surgeries to heal his leg.
Aubrey medically retired in July of 2015 as a Senior Airman. During his time in the Air Force, he received numerous medals, including the Purple Heart Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.
In July of 2016, Aubrey’s left leg was amputated below the knee at Walter Reed Medical Center. Before this procedure, constant nerve pain was an all-day occurrence, and Aubrey could not stand for long periods of time. Since the incident, Aubrey was unable to run and, having been a competitive runner since high school, it took a toll on his spirit.
Aubrey’s time at Walter Reed Medical Center has been life changing, both physically and mentally, for the better. His goal has always been to run again, but Aubrey continues to do more now despite his injuries than he would have ever done prior to his injuries. Now, he’s hand cycling in marathons, golfing, swimming, paddle boarding and even snowboarded five months after amputation. The most meaningful to him is that he can chase after his son, Theron, and run with his dog. Aubrey is returning to school to finish his bachelor’s degree and continually trains for competitions. Now that his wife, Jasmine, is an avid snowboarder, they both look forward to passing it on to their son.
A new home for the Hand Family is currently in construction.