Person of the Week
 
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Josh Cawthorn

Updated: Friday, January 3 2014, 07:54 PM EST
As we begin a new year it seems only fitting that our first Person of the Week for 2014 would be a veteran.

So many have sacrificed for this country and for each other.  Josh Cawthorn is among them.  But when he returned from war he never imagined it would put him on a national stage, and in a position to make a difference in the lives of his fellow veterans.

Long before he picked up a guitar, years before music mattered more than he would ever imagine, Josh Cawthorn wanted to be a Marine.

As the son of a Marine who served in Desert Storm, he would answer the call to Afghanistan.

But two years ago, he made a sacrifice that would send him home and end his time in the corps.

"I got a call from Quantico that said my son had been injured.  But that was it."

An IED blew up, literally crushing and mangling part of his face.  He lost his right eye, but for Josh, there was a greater loss.

"I love Nick like a brother,"  he told us by phone from his hospital bed at Bethesda Naval Hospital, just two weeks after the explosion.
  
"I remember them calling for O'Brien because they couldn't find him."

His best friend, Nicholas O'Brien was killed in the explosion.

"I think about it every day.  Pretty much every day."

Cynthia Campbell, mother, "I knew God spared him for some reason because he was so close to Nick."

Josh, "65% of my platoon has the Purple Heart."

He now wears that Purple Heart every day, but if you can't see it and don't want to stare, he'll be glad to show it to you.

"The normal ones, the ones that supposed to look like my eye you see it, it doesn't really move a lot and it only blinks and looks kind of crazy.  So I'd rather people look at me and know I have a fake eyeball then look at me and try to wonder."

"If he's gonna be different.  He might as well be different".

He never could have imagined just "how" different his life would become.

The Marine turned musician is now a member of a group of wounded warriors traveling the country. Playing with professional musicians such as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, they raise money and awareness for combat veterans.

But playing music is not just a past-time now, Josh retired from the Marine Corps and joined Music Corps at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Maryland.

Josh Cawthorn, Person of the Week, "we bring in professional musicians to teach wounded or ill service members.  It' not like Kumbaya stuff.  We work on real projects with real musicians."

It's therapy, rehabilitation, even for those with traumatic brain injury such as Josh.

Brandi King, girlfriend, "just even remembering what he was saying in a full sentence he would just forget halfway through.  I think he's progressed a whole lot as he learned more and more music."

"I can sit and focus on playing guitar instead of focusing on bad things."

He can't escape what he has lost.  He will always carry the scars of war, but now he's on a new mission, and still with a band of brothers.

"Being together we're kind of like a squad.  But a band" says Josh.   "It changed my life.  Made me the person I am now."Josh Cawthorn


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