One of the toughest things I've ever had to do, said Major Patrick Miller about his steady, but slow, recovery from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

It's quite a statement from a 32-year-old Army man who has lived through two overseas deployments.

You know, you survive war, two-and-a-half years in a hell on earth, he said. You come home and do crazy stuff, and you have your whole life ahead of you. And then something like this happens.

April 2, 2014, Major Miller was shot at point-blank range, by fellow soldier Ivan Lopez while on duty at Fort Hood. 15 other soldiers were wounded. Four, including the gunman, died.

Miller is credited with saving several lives. After he was shot, he ushered others into a room, closed the door, and called 911, while somehow managing to put pressure on his own wound.

He had to wait about 45 minutes to be rescued and to get medical attention. He admitted, for a moment, his mind clouded with doubt.

At first, I was thinking, 'What a crappy way to go. With everything I've been through in my life and everything I have left to do,' he said.

But then determination took over.

Immediately it was like, 'I'm gonna live. This is not gonna stop me.' And you know, it's not, Miller said.

He spent two weeks in the ICU and has spent he last twelve weeks recovering. He is not 100 percent yet, and still has a long road ahead, but said he continues to feel better every day.

He doesn't consider himself a hero.

The people I consider heroes are the ones who never make it home, he said. The folks that never get to return to their spouse, mom, dad, or children. In my eyes, they are the true heroes.

Miller said he doesn't think the shooting has changed him as a person, but like he did after his deployments, he said he thinks he's found a new appreciation for life.

While he hasn't suffered from nightmares or flashbacks, he said reading back through texts and listening to phone messages from the first 24-to-48 hours after the shooting has been emotionally draining.

I don't like people to worry about me, he said. I like to protect other people and be there to comfort and console.

That has been the worst part of this whole thing -- looking back on how worried people that I care about were, and there was nothing I could do about it, Miller continued.

He and his wife are about to permanently move from Fort Hood. He said, emotionally, it's going to be a good move because it feels like a fresh start.

They are ready to say goodbye to the past, he said, but there is no woe is me, Miller said.

This weekend he will travel to western New York, which is his homeland. He will be honored as the grand marshal of an annual parade.

Eventually, they will make a new home at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

I love what I do. I love being in the Army. I love this country, Miller said. That guy, that incident, is not going to stop me from defending this country and doing my job.


Read or Share this story: