The Disabled American Veterans honored Coast Guard aviation survival technician
David Riley as the Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year for 2010.
Riley, who lost all four of his limbs to a bacterial infection in 1997, is recognized
for his outstanding volunteerism and his commitment to inspiring his fellow disabled
“David is the kind of veteran whose visible injuries draw questions from many curious
people . While this is not an easy role to step into, David has made the most of
his disability by unfailingly turning his struggle into a positive and inspirational
force,” said Commander Barrera. “He continues to serve the veteran community with
the same courage and tenacity he displayed as a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.”
Riley lost both arms, both legs and several internal organs to a bacterial infection
that ravaged his immune system and burned his skin from the inside out. After narrowly
surviving the infection’s early onslaught, Riley spent more than a month in a coma
and many more months building up the strength to attempt physical therapy.
While Riley’s recovery has been described as miraculous by medical professionals
and his family, the event has not defined his life.
“The sickness is just another of many events in my life. It took some things from
me, but it gave me many things too,” Riley said. “I’m definitely a better person
for going through it but it is not the beginning or the end of my story.”
Riley, 50, and his wife Yvonne have three children. The couple lives in Semmes,
Ala. Riley, a life member of DAV Chapter 7 in Semmes, Ala., is an active volunteer
at the VA medical center in nearby Mobile.
“David Riley has dedicated his life to looking out for those in need. First as a
Coast Guard rescue swimmer and now as a DAV leader,” said DAV National Adjutant/CEO
Arthur H. Wilson. “His selection as our Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year
is equally for his accomplishments as a disabled veteran and for the great things
yet to come.”
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