Army Staff Sergeant.
San Antonio, Texas
Shilo Harris came from a family with deep roots in military service. As a son of a Vietnam veteran, Shilo always knew he wanted to be a soldier. On September 11th, 2001, his life changed forever. Shortly afterward he enlisted as a Cavalry Scout in the US Army. His first deployment was to Schweinfurt, Germany with the 1st Infantry Division.
From Germany Shilo headed to war-torn Iraq. On his second deployment, with the 10th Mountain Division, he was assigned and worked near southern Baghdad. On February 19, 2007, Harris’ armored vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion injured the driver and ended three fellow soldiers’ lives. Shilo survived with severe third degree burns on 35% of his body. The severity of the burns meant the loss of Shilo’s ears, the tip of his nose and three fingers. The crushing explosion fractured his left collarbone and C-7 vertebrae, damaged his lungs and scarred him with TBI, PTS, NDE, and Survivor Guilt.
The devastating injuries required that Shilo remain in a medically induced coma for 48 days. After, he spent nearly three years recovering, which included undergoing intensive physical therapy and surgeries at the burn unit of Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC), now known as SAMMC in San Antonio, TX. While at BAMC, he was the first soldier to participate in cutting-edge regenerative stem-cell research to regrow his fingers, and later received prosthetic ears. Shilo’s recovery has involved more than 80 surgeries (to date as there are surgeries required for the remainder of his life), which at times, has required his family to spend hours a day on wound care. In 2010, he chose to medically retire from the Army. Shilo reflects on his time in the service that led him to his injuries: “Everything in life is a gift. Sometimes it may not be the gift you want but you realize that your challenges are a new beginning.”
Today, Shilo is a motivational speaker, sharing his story with corporate groups, Veterans and medical teams around the world on, yet not limited to how to overcome adversity, balance personal and professional life, motivational leadership, customer service success, raising awareness of physical, emotional and mental scars of war, and serving as an inspiration to fellow soldiers/ veterans and their families. Shilo shares his inspiring story in his memoir, Steel Will: My Journey Through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to Be (September 1, 2014; Baker Books). His short film, Shilo, released in 2018, which is currently in the works for a feature film.
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