Special photo Injured soldier and Brookwood graduate Justin Lansford shows off his banner signed by friends and family.
Confined to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with severe injuries from an April explosion in Afghanistan, injured local soldier Justin Lansford sees people walk in and out of his hospital room daily.
Most of the visitors are doctors and nurses who treat the Brookwood graduate's infections and numerous injuries, which included a left-leg amputation and multiple bone breaks in both legs.
At other times, the visitors aren't medical staff. Take this past Thursday for instance.
This knock on the door was from President Barack Obama, who gave the 22-year-old a Presidential Challenge Coin and signed Lansford's U.S. Army 82nd Airborne flag.
"President Obama knocks on the door and as he opens it, he calls out, 'Helloooooo, Justin,'" Rick Lansford, Justin's father, wrote on Facebook. "Justin's immediate response was, 'Helloooo, Mr. President.' This was followed by a round of chuckles and laughs from the presidential staff, hospital staff and Secret Service standing in the hallway. It was nice to see Justin has that same uncontrollable sense of humor."
The Lansfords have gotten plenty of similar recent boosts from unexpected visitors and gifts.
Two days earlier, Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the Army's highest-ranking non-commissioned officer, stopped by Lansford's room. Members of the New York Mets also dropped in for a visit to the Bethesda, Md., hospital.
The frequent gifts and cards are just as encouraging. A large Brookwood Broncos banner, signed by Brookwood students, teachers and supporters, hangs in his room.
"The support he gets means a lot to him," Rick Lansford said in a recent phone interview. "There are up and down days but Justin still keeps that positive attitude through it all."
Lansford's well-wishers keep him motivated for what will be a long road of recovery. His father expects his stay at Walter Reed to be more than a year as the former Brookwood football player learns to walk again and live independently.
He is currently confined to a wheelchair because of his extensive leg damage. In addition to the left leg amputation, his right leg is healing from multiple bone breaks, including the femur. His right knee mobility is limited.
Lansford's days are filled with medical treatments and physical therapy to heal his body, which was battered when the armored vehicle he was driving struck a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His life hung in the balance for hours before he was extracted from the ensuing fight and that process continued in a German hospital. Even his transport to the U.S. had complications --he fought pulmonary edema (fluid in air sacs of the lung) and hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) that led to a Code 3 ride from the airport to the ICU at Walter Reed.
Those health issues are slowly improving these days.
"Justin has been making steady progress," Rick Lansford said. "His days in physical therapy have been difficult, but he fights through the pain and does all that is asked of him."