My dear friend Romy and his team at SIS recently celebrated their one year anniversary at the end of June of opening the doors to their spinal cord rehab center. I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication that he and the whole crew have put into this place. Truly an example of what it means to be In the Arena. Congrats, Romy!
“Chief” as he is often called has a clothed covered hole in his throat-from the emergency tracheotomy performed by his teammate in 2008 during an ambush while serving in Afghanistan.
The scar will forever remain on his neck where the bullet entered shattering his cervical spine and rendering him a quadriplegic.
One may think that after spending almost two years in the VA hospital in critical condition with a spinal cord injury that it would prevent or deter him from serving others and bettering himself. They’d be wrong.
My dear friend Romy is defying the odds- He was told he would never breathe on his own; however with intensive respiratory therapy, he now is able to breathe on his own for most of the day. He was told he would never be able to move any of his limbs below the shoulder. Romy has now been able to move his left arm a handful of times. Progress…
“They told me I wouldn’t be able to do anything, so I showed them I could.”
When I first met Romy in early 2009, he was still an inpatient at the hospital. I was so deeply moved by his strength and that of his wife Gaby in remaining so positive despite the overwhelming, and unfathomable challenges that they were facing and would continue to endure.
As was the case many times before, I had invited veterans to come into the schools where I taught to share their personal stories with our students. It is a lesson of a lifetime that no teacher could possibly convey better than a veteran- a lesson in sacrifice, and service above self. A moment to connect a child, a teen with someone who has given them the ultimate gift- one of freedom and the opportunity to chase their dreams.
On the day I met Romy, I knew he would be the next veteran I would bring to the school. And so, just before Veterans Day in 2009 while still an inpatient, Romy along with his amazing wife and medical team, drove three hours to give his first public talk since his accident. He spoke to over a thousand students, faculty, and community members who were there to honor him and his service to our country. His message was clear:
“You can all keep fighting”
Romy continues to speak to students, and organizations throughout the country.
Upon his discharge from the VA hospital, he began another difficult challenge; that of intense physical therapy. If/when the time comes that Romy regains use of his arms and legs, he is going to be darn sure that his body is as healthy as he can get it. While traveling great distances for ongoing therapy not available in his hometown, he and his wife began to create a new dream of opening a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center for veterans and civilians alike.
In June of 2015 after more than a year of hard work , with loyal supporters and tremendous Faith, Romy defied the odds once again. He and Gaby opened the doors to Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center to assist other SCI patients in receiving the best quality care possible.
“Go home and tell your children that dreams do come true”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Romy Camargo retired last year from active duty after serving his country for twenty years in the United States Army. He served with the 75th Ranger Regiment and 7th Special Forces Group as a Green Beret. He was awarded the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart along with numerous other well earned badges, medals and tabs.
His story “Live to Tell” will be featured on the History Channel in November on or before Veterans Day.
What I know to be true of this soldier, husband, father , business owner and community leader is that he continues to live and breathe the Core Values of the United States Army:
Loyalty – Duty -Respect- Selfless Service- Honor- Integrity- Personal Courage.
He epitomizes Courage, Leadership and Purpose and what it means to be In the Arena. This blog site is for him and every other individual who dares greatly in overcoming their fears, grief and obstacles to live their best life.