SSG WOODROW (WOODY) SLATE
Mission Accomplished on March 6, 2016
Diving has always been a passion for Army SSG Woodrow (Woody) Slate, and he was proud and eager to serve his country with the 86th Dive Detachment when he deployed to Iraq in February of 2004. He didn’t have to wait long for action: just hours after landing in Kuwait his team was notified that they were needed for a combat mission in a canal outside of Baghdad.
Throughout his deployment, SSG Slate performed a series of treacherous dives in the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The repeated dives and arduous work that is routinely asked of Army Divers caused numerous injuries, but the most severe injury was the development of a severe case of compartment syndrome within both of his lower legs. By August 2004 his condition was so severe that he needed to be medically evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany, and eventually he was brought stateside to recover in Virginia.
Over the next eight years, SSG Slate would endure over 30 surgeries in attempts to salvage his legs, but all of them failed. Doctors concluded after conducting surgeries and finally having the amputation surgeries in 2012 on both legs at Walter Reed that the damage and compartment syndrome was caused by multiple poly-traumatic injuries to his legs.
As long and as difficult as his recovery has been, says Woody, “I wouldn’t take one day of it back. I am proud to be an Army diver and Soldier.” Now medically retired, Woody enjoys spending time with his wife Sandra and cheering on his three children: Lane, Kyle, and Christy Lynn – all competitive swimmers. His previous home was an apartment that was not conducive to using a wheelchair. Woody loves cooking and missed being able to do this for his family and friends. With a specially adapted home from HFOT, he now has full wheelchair access to all areas of the kitchen and cooking area and is able to reach ingredients in cabinets and the refrigerator with ease.
Woody’s future plans include going to law school. He would love to return to a career as a diver in some capacity and has been involved with a nonprofit that teaches fellow Veterans and wounded Veterans to dive. Mainly though, he just wants to be more involved in the lives of his wife and pre-teen and teenaged children. “For the past 10 years because of being ill and my injuries, I have missed out on so much with my family and so have they,” says Woody. “This home from HFOT gives me more independence and I am able to participate more in every day living with my wife and kids.”