Former soldier, quadruple amputee, has new lease on life

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Peck, accompanied by wife, at Wallkill book signing

TOWN OF WALLKILL – Two-time Purple Heart recipient Sgt. John Peck, who has been traveling across the country telling his story of inspiration in his book “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck: How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan,” visited the Hudson Valley, Wednesday evening, to talk with locals about his experiences overseas that left him a quadruple-amputee and his journey to receiving a cutting-edge organ transplant.

Sgt. Peck was invited to participate in an event sponsoring the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc, a not-for-profit organization not affiliated with the actual Hall of Honor in New Windsor.. The speaking engagement in the Town of Wallkill, coupled with a signing of his book, would help benefit the museum.

Peck suffered a traumatic brain injury while on tour in Iraq in 2007, an injury that left him without approximately 20 years of his memory. Despite that event, he went off to do a second tour in Afghanistan during April 2010, where an IED exploded under him and both his arms and legs had to be amputated. In 2016, Peck was the recipient of successful arm transplants and now has the use of both of his arms.

Peck said there were many dark days, days where he wanted to give up, but he soon learned his new lease on life was to encourage others who had been through similar circumstances to see the value in their lives.

“I started seeing the positive in my life and I started finding my light in the darkness and I started to find a purpose,” said Peck. “My purpose in life now is to go out and help people that are on that metaphorical ledge and about ready to pull the trigger, and not only that; but, bring awareness about organ transplants.”

Executive Director of the fundraising group Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Brian Maher, said he was inspired by Peck’s resilience and jovial attitude.

“You could be in the position that he was in – to have that catastrophic event happen to you, to become a quadriplegic, and that breaks people,” said Maher. “The fact that he uses humor to get through life and find the inspiration and his purpose in what he’s doing is something that I know will inspire countless Americans for many years to come.”

Proceeds from the event will go toward the Purple Heart Hall of Honor’s Purple Heart Patriot Program, a new program being launched by the museum to bring in Purple Heart recipients from across the country to the Hall of Honor in New Windsor.