EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – For many Wisconsinites, learning to ice skate is like a right of passage. On Monday a 34-year-old Eau Claire veteran is learning to skate, all over again.
It’s been seven years since Tyler Walters laced up a pair of skates.
“I’ve been pretty excited about it. I may have gotten like three hours of sleep last night,” Walters said.
While he missed the rink, he had no control over what was keeping him off the ice.
“We got to Afghanistan in January. We were a part of the push to secure Marjah in southern Afghanistan, and we were ambushed. I was the frontman in patrol that day. They started shooting and I took a large caliber rifle round right through the left leg,” Walters said.
For two and half years, Walters’ medical journey took him down a path that included 19 surgeries. In 2012 the decision was made to amputate his leg from the knee down.
“You have to learn first how to even take a step, then walking without holding onto something,” Walters said.
To walk again, Walters worked with Traiden Oleson and Winkley Orthopedics; that was 2013. Seven years later the pair teamed up again, this time, to get Walters back in the rink.
“This was great. It’s always a lot of fun working with Tyler anyways so seeing him out on the ice skating well like this was a lot of fun,” Oleson said.
“It’s exciting, It’s a little scary I think all of us here were a little nervous, but it’s really rewarding too,” Walters said.
He knows learning it all over again won’t be easy, but says worth it.
“Stress and anxiety from having post-traumatic stress disorder is a big struggle. Having a physical outlet definitely helps quite a bit.,” said Walters.
Down the road, Walters hopes to join a pickup hockey league, but for now will just enjoy having one of his favorite hobbies back.
In Eau Claire, Jessica Mendoza, First news at Nine.