A married father of two, Tucson’s Caleb Brewer was the first member of his family to join the military.
“I was looking around to fulfill this need that I had to do something important with meaning in it,” said Brewer.
As part of the Army’s Special Forces Unit, Caleb, a green beret, served in Iraq, Africa, southeast Asia, and Afghanistan.
“It was really a bad area of Afghanistan. There were a lot of drugs and violence, there.”
And on his 31st birthday, Caleb was clearing out a Taliban improvised explosive device factory when he stepped on an IED that was hidden in the plant.
“I remember a big old boom. I remember being thrown in the air, and laying in a giant crater. And, then I came to. My left leg was there but in pieces, and my right leg was totally gone.”
Caleb grabbed a tourniquet and started applying it to his leg.
“I didn’t get a chance to twist it, because the guys next to me came to my aid so quickly.”
The next thing that Caleb remembers is waking up one week later after 64 blood transfusions and two prosthetic legs waiting for him.
“My brothers in arms that didn’t come back from overseas, I need to live a life for their sacrifice. So, I’m not going to squander the opportunity I had to live.”
Recovery took nearly a year.
“Life is going to be different but I can do it. I don’t have to start feeling sorry for myself.”
It was a process that included integrating himself back into society.
“I’m pretty motivated and goal oriented so I started training and wanted to better myself as soon as I could because I wanted to be home with my family.”
One family member, his father-in-law, had given him an old bow, and it sparked an interest in archery.
“Archery is incredibly therapeutic. It’s like an active form of meditation. When you are shooting a bow, and you’re at full draw, and you’re focused on the arrow and the target, you can’t focus on prosthetics, or pain, or a bad day.”
The Semper Fi and Americas Fund has an apprenticeship program that teaches about managing small businesses. And with their help, he purchased Stick Sniper Archery on Tucson’s east side.
His birthday on December 4th takes on a whole new meaning.
“So, it’s an alive day, now. It’s a day that I cheated death.”
Caleb looks and sounds healthy but knows others who served aren’t doing as well.
“If you find yourself in a position where you think there is no way out and that life is too hard, just know that there are people out there that will help you and there are ways to get through this stuff. Because, nobody wants anyone’s friend or bother or sister, Mom or Dad, to be a statistic.”