TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Luke Murphy is now a sales associate with Southern Land Realty in Tallahassee, specializing in land and large acreages. But when he was 17 years old, he decided his future was in the Army, so he headed to boot camp as soon as he graduated from high school. It’s just something people in his family did.
“One of my relatives had been in every scrap since the Civil War. My dad was a Marine, and my uncle served under General Patton. My dad instilled in me that I may have been born free, but you still have to do your part.”
A year and a half into his service, 9/11 happened.
“That made me even more ready to do my part. I went to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division as an infantry member,” says Murphy.
Life changed in an instant
Murphy was in his second tour in Iraq when he was injured. He was leading a 12-man team on reconnaissance outside of Baghdad when his Humvee triggered an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion blew off Murphy’s right leg and badly damaged his left leg, changing the trajectory of his life in an instant.
“I was 24 years old when I was hit and spent a year in the hospital,” he says. “I had more than 30 surgeries and had to learn to walk again. But in that time, I realized that helping others was how I could avoid dwelling on myself.”
After returning to Florida, Murphy moved into real estate, starting Southern Land in 2013 with a partner. With a love for the outdoors and a desire to avoid suits and ties, Murphy enjoys real estate.
“I fought on the land, defended it, and now I’m working the land,” he says.
Still, his true passion is helping other vets – something that started while he was still recovering in Germany.
While volunteering at the hospital where he had been treated, he also learned about “Homes for Our Troops,” a charity that provides homes mortgage-free for post-9/11 veterans who have been severely injured.
“I didn’t think I was severely injured enough to get a home, and I didn’t want to take one away from a vet who needed it more than I did, but I signed up for the program anyway,” he says.
In the meantime, he continued to volunteer, speaking at major fundraising events and traveling the country to talk at everything from small prayer breakfasts to Fortune 500 company meetings.
Finally, in 2014, “Homes for Our Troops” was able to provide the handicapped accessible home he needed.
“I could finally recover. I didn’t have to drag myself into the bathroom because I couldn’t fit the wheelchair through the door,” he says. “Every day since I received that house, I have been trying to pay it back.
“‘Homes for Our Troops’ turned my life around, so I want to help them turn other lives around. They spend 90 cents of every dollar collected to help vets have a new life and achieve success.”
Murphy’s memoir, “Blasted by Adversity: The Making of a Wounded Warrior,” was published Memorial Day weekend 2015. It received a gold medal from the Florida Authors & Publishers Association’s President’s Book Awards.
“I’ve always wanted to help people. I’m just doing it in a different way now,” Murphy says.
This article was first published in LORE magazine and is reprinted with permission. Copyright REAL Trends © 2017.