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War veteran chooses to lose a limb to keep playing hockey

Jul 23, 2010, 3:49 PM EST

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The love that many people have for hockey is sometimes viewed as being bizarre and borderline insane. Anyone who tries to introduce the game to people who are unaware sometimes come off looking like cult leaders. All right, so maybe that’s just me, but hockey is the kind of game that when it’s in your system you don’t just let that go, regardless of circumstances.

An amazing story from The Hockey News today hammers this point home. A wounded war veteran was given a choice between keeping his leg and never playing again or having it amputated and continue playing as best he could. Take a guess which way he went.

After he was wounded in Iraq, Joseph Bowser was told he could keep his right leg or have it amputated. If it were amputated, he was told, he would be able to keep doing all things he used to do.

The first thing that came to his mind was ice hockey.

“So,” Bowser said, “I guess I’m the only guy you’re going to meet who had their leg amputated so I could play hockey.”

The retired Army sergeant stood proud on his prosthetic left leg Thursday as the NHL, the Washington Capitals and Verizon Wireless donated equipment to the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program.

After a ceremonial faceoff featuring Hall of Fame goaltender Grant Fuhr and Capitals assistant coach Bob Woods, about two dozen wounded veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center took to the ice for a clinic. There are 40 service members from the Army and Marines in the program, including 15 who play sled hockey.

“A lot of them never played hockey before,” said Bob Banach, president of the program. “But once they get out there, they realize how much fun they have. It’s all about the camaraderie.”

There’s more to Joseph Bowser’s story, so I can’t encourage you enough to read from him about how hockey has inspired him to do more for the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program. Never let anyone tell you that a hockey fan won’t go to extreme lengths to keep playing the game they love.

You can visit their website by clicking here.

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