Marine Sergeant Eric Morante
Transitioning Into the “New Normal”
When Marine Sergeant Eric Morante lost his leg and shattered his wrist on his third deployment to Iraq, he was told that his life would change in a big way. Even with his determination to bounce back from his injuries, he says that making the transition to the “new normal” has been hard.
“Having to physically and mentally accept the new challenges is hard. It took a while; it took a very long time,” Eric says.
Now, Eric works to live life the same way he did before he lost his leg, including learning to become a chef at the Art Institute of San Antonio, participating in 5K and 10K runs, scuba diving, surfing, cycling, and training several times a day to become the first Paralympic boxing champion.
“I want to be treated like everyone else. A regular American going through life,” Eric says. “Some things are tough, and I have to adapt to them, but if I need help, I ask for it. I want people to understand that losing a limb doesn’t mean you can’t live a full life.”
Supporting him are his family—mom, brother and sister—fellow Marines and organizations like Impact A Hero that open doors and provide emotional support.
Impact on Family
When Eric returned from service, his mom felt she had to be strong for him as he struggled with depression and gradually came to terms with his injuries. She quit her job to take care of him for nearly nine months. Now that he’s moving forward in positive ways, Eric says his mom is finally able to focus on her own needs and go through the stages of grief, and it has been hard on her. One thing that has affected her positively is the Impact A Hero gala.
“The gala was a huge help, an over-the-top experience for her. She thoroughly enjoyed a formal dinner,” says Eric. “Something so simple had such a huge impact on her. It was a great experience for our family. She got to come out and feel proud. She was able to meet other Marines and wounded veterans, and she was also able to talk to other moms who understand each other’s pain and can talk to each other more than they can with their sons.”
Since his first invitation to the Impact A Hero gala, Eric has interacted with the organization by taking what he needs from it—but more than that, by giving back. He’s glad to have a bridge to other military families that he can help and support, and he’s also glad to know that if, someday, he needs to fall back on Impact A Hero’s support, the organization will be there for him.
Craving Life Every Day
“I’ve been given a second chance at life,” Eric says. “I see other wounded veterans who have worse injuries than I do, and they are still working to improve themselves. If they can do it, what do I have to complain about?”
Eric is grateful to have the opportunity to see new places, try different things and live life to the fullest every day. He insists on living with no excuses and no limits.
“Every time they told me I couldn’t, I proved them wrong,” Eric says. “The boxing, the scuba diving, the sky diving—they said it was not going to happen, but I do it.”
Eric hopes that he can make a real difference in the world. First, he’s pushing for boxing to become an approved competitive sport in the Paralympics so that he can compete at that level. Beyond that, he’s hoping to help fellow wounded veterans transition back into civilian life and their “new normal.” He also wants to change the perception of wounded veterans in the community.
“I’d like the world to know that even though we’re injured—broken, bruised and battered—we’re still the same people we were before,” Eric says. “Even if there are setbacks, if there are things we’re afraid to try again, we’re still the same warriors who signed up to fight for our country. The same drive is there, we’re just using it in a different manner now.”