Cpl Derrick Sharpe
A self-described protector and fighter, Derrick Sharpe joined the military seeking a better life and wanting to defend the country he loves. He enlisted in the Marines right out of high school and went on his first tour to Iraq in 2006 as an Infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
On Sept. 23, 2006, less than a month into his first deployment, Corporal Sharpe and his unit were on the way back from a patrol in Haqlaniyah, Iraq, when the streets suddenly became eerily quiet. Knowing something was not right, Cpl Sharpe took the lead in searching for the enemy when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). Immediately following the blast, a firefight erupted. Cpl Sharpe recalls landing on his back, staring at the sky, not realizing he was severely injured and that his body was on fire. His comrades acted quickly to run to Cpl Sharpe’s aid, and secure the area for his medical evacuation while taking small arms fire.
Derrick lost his right leg at the hip; sustained multiple fractures in his back, severe internal injuries and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Because his injuries were so severe, Derrick was immediately transported to Landstuhl, Germany, where his family met him to say their goodbyes, as doctors did not expect him to live. Derrick beat the odds and woke up nine months later at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Since then, he has endured more than 120 surgeries and will have more in the future.
Now medically retired, Derrick feels lucky to have gotten a second chance at life, and has high hopes for his future. He is looking forward to starting a life with his newlywed wife Cara and making memories with his son Donovan, but the obstacles Derrick has to deal with in his home overshadow his joys. Struggling with everyday tasks, like brushing his teeth because the counter tops are too high, prevent him from spending quality time with his family. Derrick feels that once he receives a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home he can truly begin to rebuild his life.
The freedom and independence he will regain in the HFOT home will fuel Derrick’s ambition to finish his bachelor’s degree in cyber security, and fulfill his dream of opening his own business someday. He is currently working as an advanced cyber risk researcher now. “I want to show and prove to others it is possible to be a productive, valued member of society after injury – all we need is a little help from the people we served and protected,” Derrick says.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Derrick is choosing to build his home in North Carolina because he has built a support network there and, most importantly, it is where he met Cara, the love of his life.
Derrick is incredibly grateful to be receiving an HFOT home and considers HFOT’s donors and supporters his guardian angels. “Your love and support for Veterans like me gives me hope. If I can help just one person in the same way, life and all its trials will be worth it,” he says.