Paraplegic Veteran Earns His Skydiving License And Takes Back His Life

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When Alex Dillman, an Army veteran, lost the use of his legs due to an IED explosion in Afghanistan, it seemed like much of what defined his identity was taken away. However, an unexpected activity has offered him a path to reclaiming some of what he thought was lost.

Flying through the sky at a breathtaking 120 mph, Dillman finds himself in a realm where his wheelchair is no longer a necessity, and even his legs become secondary. Skydiving has become his refuge, a space where he can tap into a unique blend of focus and liberation. In this exhilarating environment, he describes feeling a sense of obligation to excel—a mindset reminiscent of his days on deployment, where every action carried weight.

Walter Allen‘s “Extraordinary Ordinary” segment on Fox 13 News, Tampa, sheds light on Dillman’s remarkable journey. It took years of determination and innovation for him to devise a method for solo skydiving that circumvents the use of his legs. Through his story, Dillman not only demonstrates resilience but also showcases the boundless potential for adaptation and triumph in the face of adversity.

“[In] some weird way… the universe has offered me this opportunity. I was capable of doing it on my own [sic] was all I needed, and it sent me on this wild trajectory,” Dillman said when he spoke to Allen and Fox 13.

Originally, Dillman viewed adventure therapy as a means to address his own depression and PTSD stemming from the loss of his abilities. Little did he know, it would eventually aid in regaining some of those abilities.

Today, Dillman is actively involved in a non-profit organization called Skydive First Project, dedicated to using outdoor adventures as a form of therapy for individuals struggling with PTSD and depression. Based in Tampa, the organization offers a variety of activities including hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, scuba diving, and tandem skydiving. Through these experiences, participants not only find solace and healing but also discover newfound strengths and capabilities they may have thought were lost forever.

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“[The] great thing about skydiving is that it gets me out of the chair,” Dillman shared. “I don’t bring my chair with me, so I’m in a free state. I don’t need to be in the chair to perform the act of skydiving.”

“I can feel my legs and my feet to a certain extent. I can get a better sense of my overall being, feel what my legs are doing, feel what my hips are doing. Having that feeling again… even if it’s for 30 seconds or 60 seconds… is enough for me!”