Too many stories of wounded veterans have a decidedly negative spin. This one, though, has a much more optimistic ending. A Marine Corps vet is living out his childhood dream of becoming a police officer. Only there’s one big twist: this vet is also a double amputee. He was just sworn into the Suffolk County Police Department.
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Matias Ferreira, 28, is joining the Suffolk County force as a full active duty officer. He took his oath with 59 other recruits last week.
Lance Cpl. Ferreira lost both legs below the knees when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011. The blast broke his femur, and his pelvis, too, but not his spirit.
The Marine vet set his sights on a new goal. He learned to use a set of titanium prosthetics and looked for another way to serve.
“I was given a second chance,” he told Newsday. “Not many people survive an IED blast like I did. I don’t want to be one of the guys who just kind of gives up on themselves.”
“I’m just really eager and excited to prove myself to my colleagues in my new job, my new career, that I’m capable of doing the job just as well as somebody with both legs,” Ferreira said in an interview Thursday at the police academy in Brentwood. “I don’t think the prosthetics hinder me in any way.”
Police Commissioner Timothy Sini stands behind all of his officers, but has especially high praise for Ferreira. The vet is the “quintessential example” of what Suffok County looks for in recruits.
“This is someone who served our nation, paid a significant sacrifice, and is now able to overcome adversity in a tremendous way,” Sini told Newsday. “He’s done a terrific job as a recruit in the academy, both physically, academically and in his leadership to the other recruits, and he’s going to make a fine officer.”
Ferreira completed the full 29 weeks of training, just like every other recruit. He even ran with his class, completing the mile required in 11 minutes. Through the whole training, he kept up his indomitable spirit.
“A lot of guys are like, ‘What happens if one of your legs break?’” Ferreira said. “‘I’m sorry to say, but if I break my leg, I go in the trunk, I put on a new one. If you break your leg, you’re out for a couple months, my friend.’”