July 29, 2011

WBRC Alumnus in the News with a New Career

WBRC Alumnus, Michael Malarsie, is embarking on a new career with the Air Force.  He e-mailed us with links to two news articles about his new career, which will be to provide support to newly injured air force members.  Please read on for excerpts from the two articles:

'Back to Work'
Written by Dana Bowley
Photo of Alumnus Michael Malarsie and
his family packing for the move to Texas
"Michael Malarsie is excited — about grass. The kind that grows in a lawn at a house.

Actually, Malarsie, an Air Force Senior Airman who was critically wounded and blinded in January 2010 in an IED attack in Afghanistan, is excited about a lot of things these days. Not the least of those is being able to return to work.
Malarsie, his wife, Jessie, and their two daughters, Kadence and Sophie, are moving this week to San Antonio, Texas, where he will return to active duty in a new Air Force program aimed at providing peer support early in the recovery process for wounded airmen and women.

"They'll take people who've just gone through recovery and rehabilitation and pair them with injured people who are just starting the process," Malarsie said.

The objective is to immediately give the newly wounded access to someone who knows exactly what they've been through and what to expect in the future.

"The Air Force does a good job with the wounded," he said, "and their doctors are great, but even the best of them can't know what you're going through. Only someone who has been there can do that, and that's what we'll be doing."
Malarsie said there is no doubt he could have benefitted from such a program.

"My doctors knew from a medical standpoint what I was going through," he said, "but as good as they were they couldn't know what was going on with me and what was ahead.

"By chance I connected with a couple of people who'd been through what I had, and they really helped me a lot."

The Malarsies will be living in base housing at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, at least initially, and the 23-year-old airman is fine with that.

"I'm excited to have grass," he said. "That will be a new experience for us. It'll be neat that the kids will have a backyard with grass to play in."

Their current house in Huning Ranch in Los Lunas has no grass and an undeveloped dirt backyard.

"I think the girls are going to love it," he said.  What they might not love is that they "won't know what to do without me at home all the time".  But Malarsie is definitely looking forward to returning to active duty.

"I'm very excited," he said. "You know, when I was younger I always thought it would be great being home all the time and getting paid, but I can tell you now, after (14 months) of it, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

"I miss the military lifestyle. I miss being useful."

And he's excited to be part of this program, which is so new it doesn't have a name yet.

"So many good things have happened to me," he said. "I want to share that with others."

Malarsie and others will be working with Air Force personnel who, like him, were blinded in combat. Although he'll be based in San Antonio, he'll be traveling to military hospitals around the country as needed..."

'Wounded airman helps other veterans, Moves to San Antonio to start recovery program'
Written by: Kim Vallez

"KRQE Los Lunas, NM - A Valencia county airmen blinded in Afghanistan is relocating his family to San Antonio so he can help other wounded airmen as part of a new military program.

Senior airmen Michael Malarsie is leaving his home in Valencia county and relocating to Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio to start a program that will pair veteran wounded airmen with wounded airmen just beginning their recovery process.

Malarsie who was blinded by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009 says "The idea behind it is nobody truly understands what it is going to be like, or what to expect than somebody who's gone through it."

Malarsie has been one of the fortunate ones. Within months of coming home, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation paired Malarsie with his seeing eye dog Xxon and he has had enormous support from people in his hometown of Bosque Farms but Malarsie says it was extremely hard when he was told for the first time he would never see again.

"I had almost no idea what to expect when I got to the blind rehab center. At Walter Reed they had a flyer of what goes on, it's like reading a pamphlet about joining the military."
Malarsie wants it to be a better experience for other veterans.
While Malarsie, his wife, two girls and dog are leaving everything they know, he says the payoff is worth it.

"I am a firm believer of pay it forward. I've been fortunate and people have taken care of me and that is what I want to do.""

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