Captain Patrick Horan Inspires through Recovery from Injury
Captain Patrick Horan was born and raised in Springfield, Virginia. He attended Radford University, where he met his wife Patty. Pat graduated in the spring of 1997 and enlisted in the Infantry later that fall. At the time, he was looking for some adventure and wanted to be part of something bigger than himself. He felt called to serve. During his enlistments, he was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Over the course of 6 years, he deployed to Panama, Thailand and Egypt.
In 2004, Pat was accepted to Officer Candidate School. There, he graduated first in his class and then elected to enroll in Ranger and Mortar school. At the end of 2005, he was reassigned to Fort Lewis. His job was to lead a Stryker platoon from 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division into combat.
Pat deployed to Iraq with the Brigade in the summer of 2006 as the platoon leader of Bravo Company. His unit moved into Baghdad during that winter in preparation for The Surge. During the summer of 2007, his platoon was working night missions to secure city streets in order to stave off insurgent IEDs.
On July 7, 2007 on one of those missions, while Pat was on a supply run for his men, coming down off a roof, a bullet snuck under his helmet and exploded as it came in contact with his skull, right above his left ear.
The quick and deliberate action of the men in his unit saved him. That night, the military medical team performed lifesaving surgery on Pat. They removed his left temporal lobe and half his skull to allow the brain to swell without causing secondary injury.
Within 72 hours, Pat was back in the States at Bethesda Naval, now WR NNMC in critical condition. He made it home!
In the beginning, Pat was completely debilitated. Within an hour, the bullet had destroyed his ability to walk, the coordination of his body and mouth and his vestibular system. He lost all sensation on the right side of his body. He lost the ability to read, write, speak, and even understand the English language. If that wasn’t enough, the bullet severed his right optic nerve leaving a visual field deficit in both eyes.
The Captain began rehabilitation five weeks after the injury with his wife at his side. Initially, clinicians gave them a discouraging prognosis. In the early days of rehab, Pat and his family were overwhelmed because the injury was so debilitating. They just couldn’t imagine how he could possibly recover. Thankfully, Pat began to make progress. Early on, he and his wife decided to stay the course as long as they had access to care.
Captain Horan’s long road to recovery included five months inpatient care at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, one year at Casa Colina’s Transitional Living Center in California, three months at the University of Michigan’s Speech Program, one month at the University of Alabama’s Taub specialized therapy program for his right arm, and two and a half years of outpatient physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy at Walter Reed.
Due to his hard work and the advocacy of his wife, Pat has made a remarkable recovery, although there remain many residual effects from the injury. Pat wasn’t able to regain his vision on the right side, he still needs a brace on his right leg to walk, his right arm and hand is stronger but not functional enough to use for most tasks. He suffers from epilepsy and still has trouble reading, writing and planning.
Today, as he retires, Captain Horan continues to improve and is working on independent living skills for a few months at a program in Charlottesville, Va. Patty feels their new home in McLean, close to Pat’s family and his doctors, is a dream come true.
This house is a symbol of the second chance this courageous couple has had at life. It’s a new start, an opportunity to leave behind years of bouncing from hospital to hospital. They have weathered the storm and are coming out the other side triumphant. Captain Horan hopes to inspire others by sharing his story. His favorite saying is “I gotta be happy… I lived!”