'Wounded Wear' Helps Injured Vets Heal

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The number of wounded service men and women returning home from war grows every day.

Lt. Jay Redman is using his near-death experience on the battlefield to encourage other injured heroes returning home.

Redman was an elite warrior -- a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs fighting in Iraq.

His life changed in 2007 when his team came under fire from a machine gun. Redman was shot twice in the arm.

"We were right at the end of our deployment. We were working in the Anbar province of Iraq," he recalled.

"I was kind of pinned down in the fire, so I got down as low as I could in this dirt in this field and was trying to get my tourniquet on. I was turned, trying to dress that arm wound when I took a round from that right side," Redman said.

"(The bullet) caught me in the face, traveled through my face and took off my nose, took off most of my cheek bone, shattered most of the bones around my eye and shattered my jaw," he continued.

Redman never got the tourniquet on his arm and was bleeding heavily. As he lay dying in the middle of the field, his thoughts turned to his family.

"I just remember laying there thinking, 'This is it.' I could just feel the life leaving me, and I felt like someone sat a 10,000-pound concrete block on top of me. I couldn't move a muscle anymore," he told CBN News.

"I started to think a little more in those final moments as things started to cloud down. I thought about my family. and I thought about how I wanted to watch my kids grow up and I wanted to come home and be with my wife," Redman recalled.

"I called out to God and said, 'Hey, give me strength to go home,' and at that moment I felt like I had strength. I just suddenly felt like I had energy and managed to continue to stay awake," he said.

Long Recovery

Redman managed to get up and walk to the medavac nearly 70 yards away. He made it off the battlefield alive, but years of grueling recovery was ahead.

"I thought it would take a couple of months to put me back together and I'll be back. I remember the look on that doctors face who shook her head like, 'We are talking years,'" he said.

Redman has had 37 surgeries over the last four years. He spent more than seven months with a tracheotomy, 11 weeks with his jaw wired shut with more than 1,100 stitches, 200 staples, and countless other medical procedures.

"I suffered from many, many infections in my face that this is actually the third nose that they built me. The first two failed and they had to cut all that tissue out," he explained.

Wounded Wear

Battlefield wounds are very unique and like thousands of other wounded warriors trying to recover in hospitals around the country, Redman stuggled to find clothing that would fit over his medical devices.

That's when he decided to act on his idea and create Wounded Wear.

"This is the core shirt that started Wounded Wear -- scarred so others may live free," Redman said while showing a shirt.

Wounded Wear provides clothing modifications for injured service men and women. They also give away t-shirts for wounded veterans to wear, so others will recognize their sacrifice.

"As I went through this recovery process that was the most difficult thing. I would go out in public and people would just stare all the time. I used to joke with my wife, 'Here I go again, out into the land of stares and gawks,'" Redman told CBN News.

Generate Gratitude 

Wounded Wear hopes to turn those stares into feelings of gratitude toward wounded veterans.

Redman says the shirts really resonate with the wounded and help in the healing process.

"What it really does is plants that seed for them to want to get back out into society and to be proud of the wounds that they have sustained, proud of the sacrifice they have made," he explained.

The group delivers kits to service members recovering in hospitals around the country. The kits include Wounded Wear clothing and reading materials.

Redman draws from his own experience in the hospital to anticipate their needs.

"I got tired of wearing that gown with my rear end hanging out all the time, so I would always say, 'Can't I get a pair of pajama pants?' So I threw in a pair of soft pajama pants for the guys," he said.

Redman works tirelessly to help heal the wounds of war, but believes it's ultimately up to the American people to show the wounded men and women that their sacrifices were worth it.

"What have you done for your country lately?" he asked. "You don't have to serve on the battlefield to serve. There are lots of ways to give back, you just need to find them and figure out how you are going to do it."

"Even if it's something as simple as just raising your children to understand that this country didn't just happen overnight," Redman added. "There was tremendous hard work and sacrifice that made it what it is, and they need to be thankful everyday for this gift we have."

--Originally broadcast November 13, 2011. 

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