T.J.’s Story: Wounded Warriors Waging New Mission

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PITTSTON -- U.S. Army Capt. T.J. Hromisin of Pittston was severely injured on a mission in Iraq nearly a decade ago.

Hromisin was in his early 20s living out a dream he'd had since middle school.

"That was just his goal in life, to be an Army officer, from the time he was in grade school, so he did what he wanted to do," said T.J.'s mom Mary Ellen Hromisin.

T.J.'s mom Mary Ellen and dad Jerry are his caretakers now. It's been almost 10 years since T.J. faced a devastating injury while serving in Iraq.

"They were on house-to-house search and a sniper half a block away did what he wanted to do, and shot him. He was the third officer in a matter of weeks that was shot in the same way, and he was the only one that survived," said Mary Ellen.

T.J.'s survival wasn't likely. He was shot in the head. He lost his eyesight and a third of his brain.

His dream looks a little different now, but he still has the same drive.

T.J. works out near his home in Pittston several times a week. He gives back at his alma mater, the University of Scranton.

Together they raise money for other injured vets who need seeing-eye dogs. T.J.'s is named "Liberty." She's his soldier now, so to speak.

"I look at him and I think about what could have been," said Mary Ellen. "We're so blessed that he's as good as he is."

Feeling good has a lot to do with the good that you do and that's still part of T.J.'s routine.

"Before, I'd be like, 'What do other people need?' That motivates me to do what I do. How am I going to accomplish things? Whereas, now it's, 'What do I need to accomplish life better?'"

He's not an officer but a role model at the Center for Independent Living in Scranton.

"It kind of helps me realize that I'm not alone, and the fight that's going on, you realize that other people have it harder than you do," T.J. said.

Some were injured like T.J. Others have lived with their disability for a lifetime. T.J.'s new mission is to help people better understand individuals with disabilities.

"They still have feelings that relate to the real world. You know, people think like, 'Oh, they have a disability so they're detached from the real world.' No, they're not detached from the real world at all. They still have feelings toward everything, opinions toward everything, stuff like that," he said.

T.J. proves life may not go as planned. Your purpose may change, but as long as you're willing to get up, it'll be worth it.

"He's happy, and that's all I can ask for at this point, you know? That he's happy," said Mary Ellen.

His vision hasn't been lost, it just maybe changed focus.


  • Cathy Feeney Collins

    TJ is my cousin through marriage. He is a true warrior. When we meet where he exercises, I am always so soundly in awe of him. His two guardian angels, mom and dad – Mary Ellen and Jerry – are, also, Warriors. The true meaning of a mom and dad’s love. These three people set an example of all that is good in life. Thank you for turning a tragedy into such a blistering lesson for all of us…in this life … to follow.

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