Dan GadeArmy Major Dan Gade graduated from West Point in 1997 with a degree in environmental science and became an active duty armor officer in the Army. For two years, he worked as a company commander in Korea, then in Iraq near Ramadi, one of the most notorious areas for the insurgency. During his five months in Iraq, he was wounded in action twice, and then spent most of 2005 recuperating from his injuries, which included amputation of his right leg at the hip.
After his recuperation at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., Dan was flown to POA to be fitted with a vacuum assisted socket for hip-disarticulate amputees. This unique socket was invented by Stan Patterson for Josh Olson, another soldier who had been injured in Iraq. Dan was a quick learner, and within a few weeks was walking with a cane and regaining strength and confidence. Within months, due to his determination and hard work, Dan's gait improved so much it was hard to tell the difference between him and an above-knee amputee.
Dan was able to stay on active duty in the military after his injuries. As associate director for domestic policy for the White House's Domestic Policy Council, he was responsible for disability and health care issues. His specially designed socket, equipped with a Power Knee, enabled Dan to walk through the halls of the White House with confidence and without tiring.
Dan said that after his injury, people often referred to him as a hero. But at a Department of Defense ceremony in December 2007 where Dan was one of 16 “everyday heros” being honored for overcoming their disabilities, Dan offered a different definition.
“A hero by my way of thinking is not captured by a dictionary search or (an Internet) search. Most heroes simply live their lives unnoticed and uncelebrated,” Dan said. “Perhaps the best definition of a hero is one who chooses a harder right over an easier wrong. You may be thinking that the war fighters are the heroes, and some are. You may think the military families are the heroes, and some are. You may even think that you are not a hero, but aren’t you, or couldn’t you be? Those of you with disabilities who are working despite those disabilities and employers who empower them are my heroes today, and I applaud you.”
Since we first met Dan in 2005, he and his wife, Wendy, have added twin sons to their family. He finished his PhD program, and is now teaching at West Point. As if that is not enough to keep him busy, Dan is also an accomplished triathlete and has competed in Ironman competitions! Most recently, he participated in the Warrior 100K mountain bike ride with former president George W. Bush to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.