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APR 2018

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G.I. JOBS | APRIL 2018 | GIJOBS.COM 52 52 EDU STUDENT SUCCESS SPOTLIGHT FINDING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS Wounded veteran returns to school, sports and the military, navigating life's struggles with incredible tenacity. BY ANDREA LOVAS RETIRED MARINE Cpl. Matthew Bradford has had a pretty busy decade. He ran an impressive number of marathons, half-mara- thons and Spartan races, learned to surf, formed a friendship with singer Toby Keith, went skydiving, and earned a dual-major bachelor's degree from the University of Kentucky. He also got married, became the proud dad to three chil- dren, and got to experience his dream of participating in the radio broadcasts during Kentucky Wildcats basketball games. In January 2018, Bradford and his fam- ily were invited by President Donald Trump to be one of his guests at the State of the Union address. That's a list of accom- plishments that would inspire most of us to live fuller, richer lives. But what makes these achievements infinitely more impressive is that Bradford is blind and wears two prosthetic legs. That's not how he imagined his life would turn out. LIFE INTERRUPTED Bradford felt compelled to join the military after seeing the devastation of the Sep- tember 11 attacks. He signed up for the delayed-entry program while he was still in high school, then enlisted after his graduation. "All I wanted to do was join the military and defend our freedoms," says Brad- ford. "That was my dream." Bradford had mentally prepared for a long career in the Marine Corps, but his plans – and his entire life – were irrevocably altered four months into his first deployment. On Jan. 18, 2007, Bradford was on a foot patrol in Iraq when an IED exploded beneath his feet, tearing off his left leg above the knee and severely mangling his right. Shrapnel flew into his eyes, imme- diately and permanently rendering him totally blind. Bradford also suffered broken bones in his hand, a ruptured bladder and a bruised stomach. Three days after the G.I. JOBS | APRIL 2018 | GIJOBS.COM "If I can inspire one person a day, then I feel like my job is complete." Matthew Bradford, Retired Marine Corps veteran, Univesity of Kentucky graduate

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