Copyright 2014 The (Jacksonville, N.C.) Daily News
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Sometimes just asking why is better than saying nothing at all.
As a single-leg, below-the-knee amputee, Matthew Morrison said he is bothered more by those who stare at his prosthetic than being asked by people of all ages how he lost his leg.
“It’s as simple as just asking,” said Morrison, a 22-year-old Marine corporal from Linwood, N.J., with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. “You don’t need to worry about being disrespectful. Just be honest and start a conversation. I’d rather people ask than assume what happened to me.”
And if you do ask, he’ll tell you about the patrol through Marjah, Afghanistan, on April 9, 2011, that changed his life. He’ll tell you about taking a knee to hold security on a compound. And he’ll tell you about the ensuing blast that severed his leg below the knee, fractured his femur, caused a traumatic brain injury and sent shrapnel throughout his body.
“Being an amputee has changed a lot — I wouldn’t say drastically, but it threw me for a loop,” he said. “Most (amputees) I know are pretty open about it. When it comes to people, the biggest reaction is kids, and they will say whatever they are thinking. It gives me a chuckle.”
Sometimes when he wakes up, Morrison forgets his lower leg is missing and falls to the ground when he tries to stand.
When he is wearing his leg, he sometimes loses his balance. In such a situation, he doesn’t mind people offering to help. Most amputees, he said, would rather get help from a stranger than fall over and hurt themselves.
“I want to be treated normal,” he said. “Life is pretty much the same except that I need to take my leg off at night and put it on in the morning. Once I got used to it, you just go on with life.”