ARLINGTON, Va. (Aisha Chowdhry, WUSA9) -- Dawn Halfaker is dedicated to serving her community. During her military career, she was deployed to Iraq in 2004.
That's when tragedy struck.
She remembers waking up in the hospital with no right arm. A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) went right through her Humvee when her unit drove into an ambush. But that did not deter her from running a successful contracting company in the Washington metropolitan area.
Her professional services and technology firm helps government organizations with issues that have national and global significance. The Department of Defense, Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Department of Homeland Security are among the many clients that Halfaker and Associates caters to.
"When I got injured, and found out and woke up from a coma, and lost an arm...I thought my life was over," Dawn recalls of her first few moments in the hospital after her unit was attacked.
She lost her right arm in that ambush in 2004. Her 25th birthday was spent in the hospital recovering. She had to learn how to play basketball again, and little things like tying her shoes. Most of all she learned compassion and knowing that its okay when others help her.
"Its really taught me to rely on the help of other people."
In 2006, Dawn, the 'one-woman-Army', as she calls herself, started Halfaker and Associates in an effort to continue to serve the community.
"It kind of overcomes and helps you forget, oh I'm missing an arm or I'm missing a leg..helps you move on so I wanted to use my company and help in a way that would provide opportunities for those people," she said.
Dawn gives back each day. Her company employs around a hundred people and almost half of them are wounded warriors and veterans.
Michael Alan Sinks lost part of his hearing in Iraq and knows the challenges veterans face when they are trying to find a job back home.
"I don't think that a lot of employers understand the skills that veterans have. They don't transition well from being a gunner in Iraq to working contract administration," said Sinks.
His job prior to this was in Afghanistan working as a counter-suicide bomber.
He was able to find a job at a place where his boss knows that their military experiences will always be a part of their lives.
Dawn has gained a great amount of success over the course of time but she knows that the wounds of war will always remain.
"There's probably not a day that goes by that I don't somehow acknowledge that memory, and obviously not having an arm, that's also something that usually comes up during the day, I get frustrated trying to do a little task, but really I think, when I think about everything else that's going on today, and people are still getting injured or..soldiers or war-fighters are still on the front-lines and.. sometimes it takes me back."
Written and Reported by Aisha Chowdhry