Donald Goodnight joined the United States Army in 2005 and was medically discharged four years later.
. . . He first went to basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then to Blackhawk helicopter Advanced Individual Training at Fort Eustis, West Virginia. He then received orders to Fort Hood, Texas. Once he arrived, he quickly learned that he was deploying to Iraq in five months.
In October 2006, he left for his first deployment – a 15-month tour of duty. During the deployment, Goodnight said, his unit was constantly under mortar and rocket attack. His battalion returned to Fort Hood in January 2008. When they returned, they received orders to deploy back to Iraq in April 2009. They began preparation for deployment and left in November 2008 to Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana. They were deployed on April 22, 2009. He said his battalion would take infantry and scouts to landing zones, drop them off and come back to get them once the mission was complete.
On July 4, 2009, Goodnight was on an air assault mission that was coming into the landing zone in a field. They hit a rut in the ground which caused a hard landing. The hard landing caused a life-changing injury to Goodnight. He slipped two of his discs forward, impinging nerves in his legs and groin and fracturing the vertebra of the two discs.
Goodnight was flown to Germany where they decided he was no longer deployable and sent him back to Fort Hood for more evaluation.Once Goodnight returned to Fort Hood, he was found to have severe post traumatic stress disorder. When he was released from duty, he returned his family to the Bitterroot Valley.
In January 2011, he went in for back surgery and received Lumbar Spinal Fusing surgery at two levels. At that time they also found that he has spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. The Veterans Administration gave Goodnight 100 percent disability, as he is unable to work.
Goodnight is now an avid volunteer throughout the Bitterroot Valley, including the Bitter Root Humane Association, Buck Up for Wounded Warriors, the fairgrounds and anywhere else he can. He is also a member of the American Legion Post 91 in Corvallis and Masonic Lodge 43.“This is my way of giving back,” he said.
For more information or how to volunteer, contact Rudy Smith with Buck Up for Wounded Warriors at firstname.lastname@example.org.