Former Notre Dame basketball player and Army veteran Danielle Green lost her left arm during a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Iraq. After medically retiring from the army in 2004, she went back to school and is currently serving as a veterans affairs counselor.
Green, having recently shared the ESPY award stage with LeBron James, Steph Curry and many more professional athletes in Los Angeles, received the Tillman Award for her exemplary willingness to serve. The Tillman award honors an individual “with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of Pat Tillman,” the ex-NFL star killed in Afghanistan in 2004 while serving as an elite army ranger.
During a recent interview with the Military Times, Green dropped some awe-inspiring insight about her journey that we can all learn from.
1. “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”- Nido Qubein. As the Military Times reported, Green said she never wanted her past success or her injuries to define her future. “Maybe 11 years ago, 10 years ago, it was all challenging,” she said of her injuries. “I had to try and figure out how to redo everything I had done left-handed. But you have to learn to adapt, learn to adjust to your environment. You have to keep working,” said Greene.
2. Help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours. Officials from the Pat Tillman Foundation and ESPN said Green stood out as an exceptional candidate for the award because of her selfless service, strength in the face of adversity, and continued commitment to her country.
3. No one is coming to save you. Be your own hero and take responsibility for the outcome of your life. “There is no self-pity, there is no regret . . . because once you go down that road you get stuck, and then I won’t be any service to the people who come in looking for help. That is my mission now. So I refuse to accept a role as a victim. I am victorious. I can’t be stuck in the past,” said Greene when asked if she had any regrets about joining the army after her injury.
“When I got hurt, I got angry because I was not ready to die yet, and I remember saying a prayer. … I wanted to tell my story. I wanted to leave a legacy behind. I’ve got a 9-month-old at home. I want my son to be able to look up to his momma and say, ‘There is an extraordinary woman.’ I hope I can inspire others.”
4. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek. “Currently, I’m the team leader at the veterans center located in South Bend, Indiana. Our job is to welcome veterans home … and help them with whatever challenges they’re facing. Sometimes that’s post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression, [and] problems with substance abuse,” said Green when asked if being a wounded veteran was an asset or a challenge in your current job.
“I think [my injury] is more of an asset than a challenge here because I can connect with them. I think it gives them an opportunity to say, ‘She gets it. She has been there.'” With the Vietnam veterans that walk in the door, they’ll look at me funny because a lot of them didn’t serve with women. When I get to my introduction — I put out there that I was an MP, I got hit by an RPG, [and] I lost my arm — you can see them start to open up.”
Green’s journey is a true testament to what can happen when you decide that “you are your only limit.” Watch her emotional acceptance speech below:
Read more Danielle Green’s interview: Military Times