The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


The Smileys: Blind Eyes and a Purple Heart

By Tim Branson
The 700 Club

CBN.comIt’s not unusual to see a couple out for a morning run, but for Scotty Smiley and his wife Tiffany, just going out for a run presents more of a challenge than for most.

Scotty is blind. He’s also a captain in the U.S. Army.  He uses his experience from the streets of Iraq to prepare others for war.

Scotty says, “I’m basically tactical knowledge of the group.  I’m able to help out with the basic officer leader course [and] initial entry training. I’m also able to-to speak to lieutenants and soldiers who are just entering the Army and give them a perspective. Give them a real-life example of what can happen and what will happen.”

Of course, Scotty wasn’t blind when he signed up for the Army. In fact, he graduated from West Point and completed the Army’s ranger school.   But it took more than military training to help him deal with the challenges he faced while serving in Iraq. 

“It was a mental strain, because you’re seeing two million people walking, going about their day, and at any time you don’t know if they’re trying to kill you,” he says. “I always had to turn to Christ and say, ‘Lord, give me strength today.  Give me the will, the wisdom and the honor and integrity to do the correct thing today and do what You want.’”

He wasn’t the only one praying. His wife Tiffany prayed often for her husband.

“I prayed for protection and protection of his men,” she says, “and just prayed for what they were doing over there for the Iraqi people.”

He would need even more prayers in the days to come. On April 6, 2005, then Lieutenant Scotty Smiley and his platoon were on patrol in Mosul, Iraq. He noticed a suspicious-looking car and ordered his vehicle to move closer and intercept.

He recalls, “I fired two shots in his direction to try to get him to stop. He just continued to go. As he was still going, I kinda turned into him and was probably about 10 to 15 meters away. He looked at me and raised his hands several times, but everything went black.”

Tiffany says, “I got a phone call at 3:45 in the morning. It was Scotty’s company commander. He called me and says, ‘Scotty’s been hurt bad. He has shrapnel in his eyes and his head. It doesn’t look good.’ I didn’t know what to do. What do you do?  I can’t call him. I can’t go to the hospital.”

The other troops were shielded from the explosion. Scotty wasn’t so lucky.  Shrapnel hit both eyes and penetrated to his brain on one side.  Miraculously, doctors removed the shrapnel and stabilized him.  But there was more news.

“He said, ‘They removed his left eye, and I’m sorry, ma’am, but they’re probably going to have to remove his right eye now.’ Hearing that is like… I don’t know. I remember where I was and hearing that was like no other feeling I’d ever felt before,” Tiffany says. “Your world just goes out of control.  Everything you knew, everything that was normal before is gone.  So I took that news, just fell to my knees and prayed to the Lord.”

Scotty was eventually moved to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.,  blind and paralyzed on his right side. His brother read the orders for Scotty’s purple heart.  It was emotional for everyone -- especially Scotty.

“It was very difficult,” Scotty says. “The first time that I realized that I was injured was when I received my purple heart. I’m still lying in bed in pain, and I might not be able to walk.  I might not be able to ever see again. That was a very hard time for me.”

Family and friends surrounded Scotty with prayer and encouragement.

“A week later, he got up and walked,” says Tiffany. “To go from not using it at all to walking in less than a week was pretty awesome. Everyone was blown away.”

But then, Tiffany was asked to sign Scotty’s medical retirement papers, which would end his Army career. She refused.

“Something inside me didn’t feel right about it,” she says. “I saw Scotty making gains, and I saw him improving. I knew he was the same person. I saw it in him.  I just didn’t feel right about it.   Something inside me was like this is not the time.”

Scotty improved daily, physically and spiritually.  With the support of key people, he stayed in the Army.  He learned to read Braille, and he uses special equipment to help him do his job. 

Scotty never lets blindness get in the way of living his life.  He’s been snow skiing, sky diving, and even learned to surf.   He was also promoted to captain.  But he and tiffany get the most excitement out of sharing about God’s faithfulness and love.

Scotty says, “Know that Jesus Christ is watching every moment and every second. He knows every thought that goes through [your] head. He is in control, and He has a plan for [you].”

Tiffany says, “Jesus Christ is real, and His promises are real.  You can trust Him. Whatever trial, whatever suffering, He’s there. He will see you through.  He’s not going to forget about you in the middle of it.  He’s going to see you through it.”

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