Josh Himan has always been an athletic guy with a heart of gold. He studied finance at Radford University, where he also felt a calling to defend his country by joining the military.
Soon after enlisting in the Marines, he chose to join the front lines. Deployment sent him to Afghanistan, where, in his final month before returning to the states, the vehicle he was in drove over an improvised explosive device.
Josh was severely injured and went home with quadriplegia, meaning he was paralyzed from the chest down. His recovery and rehabilitation process took years, but he slowly learned how to navigate his new life. Eventually, though, he reached a point where he longed for the freedom of being able to drive.
“During my time in the hospital, you know, one of their things was, what can I do back in society again?” Josh said. “They [several therapists] told me that I had the ability to drive … but the problem was trying to put the whole package together.”
That’s when he met retired Major Tammy Phipps. In 2008, she created the first and only comprehensive driving program in the Department of Defense at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Using this program, Tammy was able to design a plan to get Josh back on the road. Throughout the process, she carefully guided him and his family through vehicle recommendations, auto adaptive equipment needs, follow-up training, and more.
These days, Josh is able to drive anywhere he wants to go, all by himself, without any issues.
This newfound freedom was life-changing. But Josh didn’t want it to end with him or even with fellow veterans. He knew the world was full of people just like him, and he wanted to help. So, in partnership with Tammy, he created the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence (DRCE) with the mission to “make Mobility Accessible to everyone.”
Located in Fairfax County, Virginia, the DRCE staff members evaluate each person who reaches out for help so they can find and install the best equipment for them to get back to a life with more mobility — and freedom. Each driver stays in the program until they feel comfortable getting back on the road.
“What I really find a lot of pride in is I help quadriplegics all over America,” Josh said. “We’re able to take those skills that we learned in the military and from all those military injuries and now actually pass that along to the civilian world.”
Share this story to celebrate the positive impact Josh and the entire DRCE team are having on people across the country.
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