The 2007 DAV Freedom Award was presented to Marine Corporal Jason Poole.
Poole, a native of England who now hails from Cupertino, California, was injured by a massive IED more than two years ago while on patrol near the Syrian border in Iraq. After two months in a coma, Jason woke up to find his world shattered. Blind in his left eye, deaf in his left ear, facing facial reconstruction and suffering from a brain injury that left him unable to speak, read and walk, Jason started out on the arduous road to recovery at the Poly Trauma Center at Palo Alto, California.
With courage, humility and the strength of a Marine, Corporal Poole hunkered down to do battle with the long-term effects suffered by the thousands of service members who have been injured by IED blasts in our current conflicts in Irad and Afghanistan.
What’s more, Jason openly and honestly engaged with the press and the American public to shed light on the plight of our injured veterans. In doing so, Jason helped focus the attention of the American public, which all too often forgets that for those who bear the scars of war, the battle truly never ends.
In 2006, Jason had progressed enough in recovery to attend his first Winter Sports Clinic, where he faced the intense challenge of the mountain on his snowboard.
He then took the sense of renewed possibility and spirit of adventure bolstered by the clinic and went back to Palo Alto to encourage his friends there to come with him when he returned in 2007.
Poole’s story of triumph over adversity is exactly what keeps the clinic going strong year after year.
“I’m constantly amazed and inspired by guys like Jason Poole. As a combat disabled veteran, I know all too well the temptation of giving up because life as you know it seems to be over,” DAV National Commander Brad Barton said. “Jason — and this newest generation of disabled veterans — are reminding us all over again that there is something unique and unstoppable in the heart, mind and spirit of our men and women in uniform.”