Clayton Rankin, who served in both Gulf Wars, returned home from Iraq in 2004 with a Bronze Star for Valor… and with severe back and brain injuries as well as PTSD.
He participated in the World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ 2010 Sea to Shining Sea Ride using a special bike that allowed him to lie flat, relieving the pressure on his back so he could pedal.
Despite his own injuries – or perhaps, because of them – Clay serves as an Advocate for the Army Wounded Warrior program (AW2). Advocate. As an AW2 Advocate, he provides personalized support to severely wounded, injured, and ill soldiers and their families. He also is a director for the non-profit Patriot PAWS, a national program that trains service dogs for disabled veterans. The Rockwell, Texas organization was founded in 2006 and successfully matches disabled veterans with trained service dogs.
Clay, who has been married for 25 years and has three children, is well aware of the many hurdles these injured soldiers and their families will face and knows how to help them get what they need.
Clay joined the U.S. Army in 1979 as a military police officer. After his tour ended, he volunteered with the Colorado National Guard. He was deployed with the 220th Military Police Company to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in1990 for the first Gulf War. He was deployed again, in 2003, to Iraq where he was injured – twice.
Clay had always been active and athletic but his injuries prevented him from most activities. With the support of his wife and his doctor, he was eager to participate in the Sea to Shining Sea ride. He saw it as an opportunity to shed light on the struggles of injured veterans and to help them and others to understand that there is life after the injury.
He is also eager to challenge his limits and to experience the camaraderie. With so many brothers and sisters in arms to pick him up if he should fall, he was confident the Sea to Shining Sea would be one of his life’s most worthwhile events.