On July 27, 2006, Michael Polius, 24, was on patrol with the Marine Corps infantry when his truck passed over an improvised explosive device. He lost three close friends, and though he lived through the trauma, his leg was shattered and had to be amputated. He almost lost his arm, too. Complications from shrapnel wounds necessitated 27 surgeries over the past year.
Despite such tragedy, he found a job in June as a safety engineer for Pearl River, New York-based general contractor Halmar International. The role was a perfect fit for his experience in the military, where he was responsible for the health and safety of 26 Marines. He now moves between job sites, but his management role doesn’t require him to carry out physically demanding construction work.
"It makes me feel good inside to be able to get up every morning, take care of myself and my fiancée, pay my bills, and not sit around asking myself, ‘Why me?’ " says Polius, who got married last month.