Today we introduce you to U.S. Air Force Captain (ret.) Andrew Miller. He’s a Veteran who Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) had the pleasure of meeting through its Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). We are honored to share his story.
A horrific car accident in February 2021 prompted U.S. Air Force Captain (ret.) Andrew Miller to medically retire. Andrew has no recollection of the 4-5 months spent in the hospital immediately following the wreck. He underwent multiple surgeries, requiring 19 screws in his leg and treatment for a traumatic brain injury (TBI). As a pilot with a strong passion for flying, Andrew was grounded and felt disconnected and without purpose.
But Andrew says there are two things that have helped him on his continued healing journey: group workouts with WWP and working with WCC’s service dogs in training.
While at Walter Reed recovering, Andrew attended workouts at the Under Armour Headquarters offered through WWP. The group workouts not only helped him feel connected but went a long way in his physical rehabilitation.
“It was really nice being able to have discussions with other people who speak the same language [military] as you,” said Andrew. “I went from those early days of not being able to walk at all to being able to run again.”
In fact, a few months back, Andrew completed the Army Ten-Miler. He openly shares, “It wasn’t through lack of effort. I took it slowly and steadily, one day at a time.”
He also learned about WCC’s Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program through WWP. Andrew started by taking a class at its headquarters in Boyds, Maryland. He really enjoyed it, so he took more classes, and completed the eight-week MBTR training program. Soon after, he committed to classes to become an independent handler, meaning he helped care for the service dogs in training and assisted WCC service dog training instructors where needed.
“When I see dogs, it just brings a huge smile to my face. When I learned about WCC’s program, I had just medically retired and was looking forward to an opportunity and something to do. It was super beneficial for me in reattaching and realizing I could still have a purpose, even if it was connecting with a dog—I still have a purpose and I found that to be very, very inspiring,” shared Andrew.
Growing up, Andrew aspired to become an astronaut. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he learned to fly. While there, he flew gliders and taught survival school. Following graduation, he attended pilot training and completed six deployments —five flying and one on the ground.
“I wanted to learn to fly, but once I got there, I got to see a lot more purpose in being in the military,” said Andrew. “It really inspired me to find a deeper purpose for serving.”
Although Andrew is currently unable to fly, he’s found another way to serve—by teaching others. Andrew is now working for a regional subsidiary of American Airlines using his experience to teach new pilots how to fly. He’s not only found purpose but has set two new goals for 2024: working with his next WCC dog and completing a half-marathon.
To learn more about WWP’s program, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.