First an Ironman, then he hopes to make the U.S. Paralympic team.
By Laken Litman – October 29, 2013 at 9:47am EDT
ARLINGTON, Va. — Jose Ramos is an example of why there should be no excuses in life.
Ramos, a retired Navy Corpsman who was also a member of a Marine Scout Sniper Platoon, had his arm blown off by a rocket in Iraq in 2004. Sunday, he was one of 30,000 people who competed in the Marine Corps Marathon.
He ran 20 miles instead of the full 26.2 because he had biked 120 the day before in preparation for an Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico this December.
Ramos’ ultimate goal?
Making the U.S. Paralympic team for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Ramos, 33, has always been active and wasn’t going to let the fact that he had one arm, plus five bulging discs, nerve damage in his foot, and deterioration in his joints, be any hindrance. In fact, just 3 ½ months after he was injured, he ran a marathon.
“I’ve always thought being physically active helps you mentally,” Ramos said on a chilly afternoon on the grounds of the Iwo Jima Memorial ,near the marathon finish line. “So for me, it’s simple. Just go out and train to do something.
“Somebody asked me a question about the Ironman. They’re expensive, like $700-$800, and they asked, ‘What do you get other than a T-shirt and a medal?’ Once you sign up for something, you set a goal and now you have something holding you accountable.”
And that’s what Ramos wants to get across to other wounded servicemen and women who have similar injuries or are worse off. They can still accomplish goals.
Ramos was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. and frequently goes back to mentor and motivate the newly injured. As an ambassador of the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit organization set up to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, Ramos wants to show other soldiers what they will be able to do once they leave the hospital.
“We try to reach them before they start to think, ‘Is my life over?’” said Semper Fi Fund manager Paul Fitzgerald. “We tell them it’s possible. We tell them, ‘This person was in that same bed as you were, maybe three doors down, and this is what they’re doing now.
“What I think that does is puts a little bit of pep in the step to all the people they’re passing,” Fitzgerald said. “You hear them saying, ‘Thank you for your service,’ and then you hear them saying, ‘And he’s passing me by.’”
It can makes one ponder their own excuses.
“And it could be something simple, like getting off the couch more,” Fitzgerald said. “What the real lesson is, is there’s no ‘I can’t’ or, ‘It’s not possible.’”
Ramos is also trying to teach his 4-year-old son how important it is to be active and to not let anything become a disability. One of Ramos’ proudest moments was his son’s reaction after one of the first races he took him to where they ran the last quarter mile together.
“He woke up the next day and was like, ‘Daddy, I want to do another race!’” Ramos said.