Ret. Sgt. Peter Damon
Ret. Sgt. Peter J. Damon is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of his arms when the wheel assembly of a Blackhawk helicopter he was servicing exploded. The accident, which occurred at an air base outside Balad, Iraq, in October 2003, killed his partner. Damon’s rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., took months, as he learned how to eat, bath and dress himself using his teeth and a prosthesis created for his left arm. He used the prosthesis to teach himself to write, although he was right-handed before the accident. Within three months of losing his arms he was drawing again, a hobby that he used to ward off homesickness while he was in Iraq. “It became my therapy,” Damon says. “It really uplifted me. It lit a spark.” Now he can’t imagine a life without art. “It has really evolved from therapy to a passion that consumes most of my time.”
In January 2009, he presented one of his paintings to then-outgoing President George W. Bush as a farewell gift. The painting of a soldier saluting a likeness of the president from a wheelchair reflected Damon’s own views. “I told him I had no regrets. I think I’m a better person because of my military experience,” Damon says.