Around 50 disabled veterans from across the country are in Eastern Iowa for a shooting competition. They’re with the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
But for one veteran, it’s about more than just the competition. Kenny Lloyd is a Vietnam war veteran who served as a gunman in the 115th artillery field in 1972.
He was overseas for 13 months and says the experience made him appreciate his home state of Iowa.
“It was different, at the time I wished I wasn’t there, I wished I was home,” Lloyd said. “But after seeing what I’ve gotten to see through the years, it was a good experience I believe.”
Lloyd returned home after his time in the Army and picked up a career as a construction worker.
But two decades later, a tragic accident changed everything.
“I fell from a second story porch and severed my spine, my T-12,” Lloyd said. “I really struggled with depression after I got hurt.”
Lloyd spent three months in the hospital and six more month in rehab, learning how to complete daily tasks and regain some independence.
But then he was introduced to a group that would give him a new sense of purpose.
“I met a social worker at the VA hospital and they told me about the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA),” he said.
The organization introduced Lloyd to a community of other war veterans, also in wheelchairs, just like him.
They even sent him to the National Wheelchair Games, where he brought home five medals.
“And then I got interested in the trap shooting,” he said. “The PVA has 12 to 13 trap shoots a year.”
Now, Lloyd serves as the vice-president of the PVA’s Iowa chapter.
He works with organization leaders nationwide to find the right healthcare for members, helps them adapt to life after injury, and gets them involved in dozens of sporting events each year.
“When you go through that depression, it takes you a while to get your mind off the wheelchair, he said. “But I love it, I love helping other veterans.”
The Paralyzed Veterans of America travel across the country in similar competitions. This is first time in Hiawatha but they say they’ll be back again next year.