Derek Moody does not remember the exact day he joined the Army. He does remember the exact day the decision to join drastically altered his life.
“It was April 13, 2007,” Moody said. “I’m one of those guys that could pass you on the street and you’d never know the things I’ve been through and experienced in the military, until you hear me speak.”
Moody, a Derby resident, suffered from severe post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury after his platoon came under direct fire during a night time operation in Baghdad, Iraq.
Moody was shot by an enemy sniper in the side of the head, while actively engaging with insurgents. The shot knocked Moody from a ladder onto the street, where he was shot six more times and received shrapnel to his head from an RPG.
The attack cost Moody a year and a half in recovery, and a lifetime of scars that aren’t visible.
Moody ended his 10-year military career in 2009, when he retired as a light infantry squad leader. Now, the 34-year-old full-time father of four spends his time speaking about the experience that changed his life.
“I don’t have any visible injuries, unless you look closely,” Moody said. “When someone requests a speaker, they want someone with visible injuries like amputations and burns. That’s not me.”
Moody is one of several speakers for Tempered Steel, a non-profit organization that promotes awareness for severely injured military members.
“There is stigma that goes with post traumatic stress disorder. Everyone sees the negative,” Moody said. “I like to show the positive that comes out of that. I consider it an ongoing success story.”
Moody has spoken for Tempered Steel numerous times since he found out about the organization four years ago.
Originally from Emporia, Moody has lived in Derby for the past three years, but this will mark the first time he has ever told his story in Derby. Moody will be the featured speaker at the monthly Derby Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Sept. 11 at 11:30 a.m. in the Welcome Center, 611 Mulberry.
“We want to make a difference by connecting wounded military members with their communities, and show people there’s more to them than just a disfigured face, said Luana Schneider, co-founder of Tempered Steel.
Schneider co-founded Tempered Steel with her son, Scott Stevenson, who was severely injured when a Humvee he was riding in was hit by an IED in Iraq.
“He was upset when he came back because people would stare and they would whisper,” she said. “Having them speak about their injuries and tell their stories has been great for them and for the communities they speak to.”
Moody is one of 28 speakers in the program. Schneider’s goal is to have one in every state.
Moody hopes his speech in Derby will raise awareness for PTSD and TBI.
“That’s what I focus on,” Moody said. “I want to show how these two things affected me, and how I was able to overcome them and turn my life around after things really bottomed out.”
Reservations for the luncheon can be made at www.derbychamber.com or by calling 316-788-3421. Deadline to RSVP is 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8.