A Veteran's Miraculous Recovery
Miraculously, the bullet missed his brain and spinal cord, but it ripped apart his face, and doctors worried that he might not make it. In the hospital in 2006, Constantine had multiple surgeries, including one in which surgeons removed bone from his thigh to rebuild his jaw. His mother and girlfriend (and now wife) Dahlia were careful to cover reflective surfaces so that he couldn't see what he looked like. But one day Constantine, 37, caught sight of his reflection in a window. He was shocked -- and saddened. "Even now, after all those surgeries and almost seven years in time, I still really wish I looked the way I used to," he says. "I don't know if that will ever completely go away."
But perhaps his most gratifying job is one he created for himself. In recent years, he started speaking at schools about his traumatic experience -- his near death from the sniper attack, the years of painful recovery. In 2011, the Wounded Warrior Project presented him with its annual George C. Lang Courage Award. Despite his speech impediment, he has become a much-admired motivational speaker, giving talks two or three times a week about overcoming adversity and giving to others. "I doubt I'll ever be in a courtroom again, but this is just as good," he says. "I want to show people, especially wounded veterans, that even though we may look different, and it can be very difficult to recover from these complex injuries we all have, we can still contribute to society in a big way." He adds, "We all have obstacles, but we're also able to overcome them when we put our minds to it."
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Gail Belsky is an editor, writer and project manager for online and print. She has held senior positions at Time Inc., Working Mother, and Parents magazine, and has written for such websites as CBS MoneyWatch.com, CNBC.com Health.com, Prevention.com, and WorkReimagined.org. She is the author of The List: 100 Ways to Shake Up Your Life.