CLEVELAND (WJW) – Corwyn Collier is beating the odds.
“I think them telling me everything I wouldn’t be able to do motivated me and pushed me more,” Collier said.
Collier is an impressive man, but not just for his hulking physique. His story is much deeper than that.
“An IED exploded on the side of my truck and hit me, causing me to lose my fingers and most of my right leg,” he said.
Collier almost died in Iraq while serving as a military police officer in the Ohio National Guard in May 2009.
“Once I was rescued, I was flighted to a hospital in Iraq and at that point in time, when they took the tunicate off my leg, my heart stopped beating and I had completely lost consciousness and everything,” Collier said. “They had called my wife originally and told her that I wasn’t going to make it and that I was going to end up dying because of the blood loss.”
Doctors were able to restart his heart and stabilize him, but that was just the start of his journey. He was quickly transported to a hospital in Germany before moving to Walter Reed in D.C. He would spend the next nine months there.
“During that time period, I had multiple surgeries on my hand and my leg,” he said. “I had to go through months and months of rehab.”
His near-death experience cost him half of his lower right leg and his four fingers on his right hand. He also has major muscle loss in both of his hamstrings – a devastating loss for a former collegiate track athlete at Southern Miss.
“I went through depression,” he said. “I went through thoughts of suicide because I felt like my whole life was wrapped around who I was, as far as being this college athlete, this physical fit person my entire life.”
Through the struggle of recovery, he turned to his faith for guidance.
“I asked God and I was praying. I said, ‘just let me see my sons grow up,’” Collier said. “’I don’t care what happens to me physically, just let me see my sons grow up and let me be back with my wife.’”
Collier credits his wife for motivating him to be more than what he saw initially after the explosion derailed his life. Her support drove him to serve a purpose.
Since his recovery, he’s earned his master’s degree in education, becoming a teacher at his alma mater, Maple Heights High School.
The Purple Heart Veteran, track coach, fitness competitor and father of three boys just earned another accolade after being named the 2023 Men’s Health ‘Ultimate Guy’ Cover Athlete. The honor was unveiled on The Today Show in New York City in December 2022.
“When they showed me the magazine, it caught me off guard,” he said. “I had so many different emotions, but I was so excited because my goal has always been to share my story and help people.”
Now he’s using the platform he’s earned to advocate for mental health for young men and those who serve.
“If you’ve got to go to therapy, go to therapy,” he said. “We have this stigma about talking, especially when it comes to men, especially when it comes to men in the military, too, about talking. What you don’t realize is that can save your life and it saved mine.”
Collier is also an author. His book Counted Out is available on his website.
His Men’s Health cover will be featured until the end of February.