Dusty with this friend Dakota while serving in Iraq

Dustin Kirby grew up in Paulding County, Georgia and is a 2002 graduate of Hiram High School. Dustin had always envisioned himself as being a hero when he grew up, so it was no surprise that he chose to join the military after he completed high school. He served in the United States Navy from 2003-2012 as HM2 (FMF) Corpsman with one Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployment aboard the USS Kearsarge and a second deployment in Karma, Iraq. The second deployment was cut short when Dustin was shot by an enemy sniper while standing post in Karma, Iraq on Christmas Day 2006.

Once the injuries were stabilized, Dustin spent the last six years of his service at the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. He continued to navigate the system to receive the help that he needed to adjust to the new normal in his life with little success. In 2012, he received a medical retirement from the military and returned home to Georgia to begin to rebuild his life.

Struggling With A New Life

As he struggled with reintegration, he realized that he missed the excitement and satisfaction that he felt while serving as a Corpsman. He enrolled in Fortis College and earned his certification for Basic Emergency Medical Technician in May 2013. He returned to Fortis and earned Advanced EMT certification in May 2014. He received the President’s Award and EMT of the Year for his efforts during the class.

Even with the success that Dustin was experiencing in advancing the professional side of his life, he was still struggling in his personal arena. The pain from his injury was often debilitating and caused an escalation in the Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms that he fought daily to keep at bay. This daily pain and emotional turmoil resulted in a very serious suicide attempt in April 2012.

Dusty with other injured vets

A Glimmer Of Hope

He realized that the most effective way to truly begin to move forward would be to begin the process to repair the facial and dental injuries caused from the gunshot injury. Dr. David Hirsch and Dr. Lawrence Brecht from Northwell Health in Manhattan, New York began the tedious process to repair Dustin’s injuries in May 2016.

Healing The Physical Damage And Emotional Pain

The surgeries have proven to be successful, relieving Dustin of the constant daily pain from a misaligned jaw and many failing teeth. Dustin’s story is a story of a tragic event that happened to him while performing the most selfless act, serving our great country. However, it is about so much more than that.

Sharing His Story With Other Veterans

His story is the story about never giving up on the people around you and
reminding us that it is okay to ask for help when you need it. His story is about remembering to believe in yourself no matter the degree of adversity that you may be facing. Giving up should never be an option, as you never know what is just around the corner.