VA helps Veteran prep for marathon with new prosthesis

“God’s got me here for a reason. I don’t quit.”


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After many years of struggling with foot fractures and infections, a Marine Corps Veteran knew it was time to seek care at VA.

“I went 12-and-a-half years with a bad foot,” said Edward Purcell (pictured above). “After multiple infections and eight surgeries to repair brittle bone fractures, my cardiologist advised me to do something about it to prevent any ongoing cardiac issues.”

Purcell reached out to the Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) for support.

Marine Veteran Edward Purcell

“God’s got me here for a reason,” said Purcell, 57. “I’ve died twice in my life. I’ve had three traumatic brain injuries and I keep going. I don’t quit.”

It’s been a year since Purcell’s amputation. His new goal in life is to complete the Marine Corps Marathon in October. “Superior mind, superior attitude,” Purcell said, citing his personal mantra. “If you follow these words, you will get where you need to be.”

Purcell found strength at 5 years old, after he was hit by a car. The accident fractured his skull.

“Somehow, I lived through that first night,” Purcell said. “The accident affected my speech. I used to talk slow and was always picked on growing up.”

“I will have completed my mission.”

After leaving the Marine Corps in 1995, Purcell ran in the Marine Corps Marathon and the L.A. Marathon before settling in Virginia. Now, he wants to run it again, only this time with a prosthesis.

“Running the Marine Corps Marathon again as an amputee means everything to me,” Purcell said. “It means I will have completed my mission.”

John Jacobs, a certified prosthetist/orthotist at CVHCS, approached Purcell’s care from a Whole Health perspective. Jacobs heard of Purcell’s ambition to run again and provided him with a walking and running prostheses.

“Mr. Purcell has been a pleasure to work with,” Jacobs said. “His commitment to prosthetic rehabilitation and returning to normal activities of daily living is amazing.”

 

The prosthetics team often forms a unique relationship with the Veterans they serve. When Purcell was ready for his final fitting, the team let him choose the design they placed on his permanent prosthesis.

Despite any of Purcell’s ongoing health issues, he said he keeps moving forward. Everything he has been through reminds him of his mission to never give up.

“I will not quit on God, my wife or my parents,” Purcell said.

Purcell now serves as a mentor to new amputees for VA.


Megan Kon is a public affairs specialist and Jason Miller is a visual information specialist, both for the Central Virginia VA Health Care System.

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