News: Soldier faces next stage of recovery after double amputation
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – When 2nd Lt. Nick Vogt stepped on an improvised explosive device, while leading a patrol through the streets of southern Kandahar, Afghanistan, doctors at the nearby hospital weren’t sure he would live.
Sheila Vogt, Nick’s mother, remembers the grim details regarding his initial diagnosis.
“Nick was injured on Nov. 12, 2011, and did not arrive in Germany until November 15th due to the fact he was very critical and was not stable enough to fly,” Sheila recalls. “My husband and I were instructed that we would fly to Germany on November 17th to be with Nick. When we arrived at Landstuhl, the doctors sat us down and said, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Vogt, your son is very critical. He is hour by hour.”
Nick had suffered such traumatic injuries that he had to undergo double amputations of both legs. Because of the amount of blood lost, the hospital on Kandahar Air Field called for an emergency blood draw.
“Complete shock, sadness, disbelief, but most of all the immediate need for prayer,” said Mrs. Vogt remembering her initial reaction to the news.
Within hours service members from many different nations came to the rescue and provided the blood necessary.
With blood stockpiled, Nick made it through the first batch of surgeries and was later evacuated to Germany for further care.
What the future had in store for Nick’s health was unknown but after five months of extensive surgeries and daily rehabilitation, the outlook on his future and health has improved and the Vogt family now has its sights set on a successful recovery.
A posting on the Vogt family’s social media website highlighted how far he has come since the tragic day in Afghanistan. It reads; ‘Nick has left the hospital’ and describes a short lunch trip Nick and his family enjoyed outside and away from the confines of the hospital.
In early April, the West Point graduate and platoon leader with the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, was moved to a Veterans Affairs clinic in Richmond, Va., where he conducts four separate therapies a day; kinesiotherapy, occupational, physical and speech therapy.
“Nick is starting to look like his old self- getting some meat on his bones, smiling, laughing and being ornery,” Sheila said.
In addition to the prayers Nick gets from his friends and family, he also receives support from his ‘battle buddies’ throughout his unit.
Shortly after being transferred to Richmond, 2nd Lt. Vogt received a surprise visit from Maj. Gen. Raymond Palumbo, commanding general for U.S. Army Alaska.
During his visit Maj. Gen. Palumbo presented the 24-year-old Vogt with a commander’s coin and clothing to help with his rehabilitation.
In addition to the commanding general, members of Nick’s unit have also made the trip to visit their comrade, demonstrating the true meaning behind the ‘military family.’
“I think every one of Nick’s chain of command has been to visit him at least once at Walter Reed and/or the VA Hospital in Richmond,” said Nicks’ mom. “Neither my husband nor I have any military background, but it is wonderful to see just how close the ‘military family’ really is.”
With the support of his family, his unit and his hometown in Crestline, Ohio, Mrs. Vogt said Nick is remaining positive and is looking forward to returning to Walter Reed Army Medical Center where he is scheduled to begin rehab with fitted prosthetics.
Sheila, speaking on behalf of her injured son, said Nick is still pondering his future and is trying to figure out the steps to accomplish all of his goals.
She said he is still considering furthering his future in the military.
While Nick thinks of his future and struggles with recovery, supporters have come together to make the recovery as painless as possible.
A 5K run will be held May 5, in the city of Crestline, Ohio to help raise money.
According to a recent interview published with the Bucyrus Telegraph Forum.com, race organizer Matt Bickert said, "People are sending us checks and messages. We never expected this sort of response. It's been great."
More than 600 people have already pre-registered, according to the site.
“We could never find the words to express our appreciation and gratitude to the hundreds of people who have helped Nick survive his injuries,” Sheila said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Had it not been for you, we would not have been able to tell the story of Nick’s survival. He has a very bright future, and we are so glad that God put you into Nick’s life.”
Nick has also been cleared to travel back to Alaska and has plans to re-join his unit for a special celebration this month.
The Vogt family has created a Facebook page to help supporters follow Nick’s recovery. (For more information check out: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nick-Vogt-Family/178392405583759?ref=ts)