WEST LIBERTY, Iowa — An Army veteran nearly killed in Afghanistan is recommitting to a life of service.
West Liberty Police Chief Kary Kinmonth swore in Keyan Brown, an Army veteran, as a reserve officer today at the Muscatine County Fair.
A grenade blast hurt Brown badly while he was serving in Afghanistan in 2011.
Now, he’s ready to help protect his country again.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day for months. Just to get back out here and serve … It’s a big dream of mine,” Brown said. “I want to do everything I can for you guys.”
A life of service
“My mom always tells the story when I was a baby, before I could even talk, I was playing with my rice pretending they were tanks, making shooting noises,” Brown said.
Brown’s passion is protecting. That’s why he enlisted in the Army in 2010.
“I wanted to go infantry, boots on the ground,” Brown said.
But his life was almost cut short.
Just three months after his deployment in Afghanistan, a grenade knocked him 15 feet in the air.
“I remember hitting the ground and just seeing blood. My first thought was one of my guys is hit,” Brown said. “I had a hole in my hip about the size of a silver dollar from shrapnel. It broke my face it tore up all my nerves … When I touched my face, I couldn’t feel lit and I’m like, ‘I’m dead. That’s it.’ You know, I thought my face was somewhere on the other side of the tent.”
“I had a hole in my hip about the size of a silver dollar from shrapnel.”
Brown flat lined from loss of blood, but doctors saved his life.
So Brown deployed again, this time to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
“Even now if somebody said, ‘Oh, would you go back?’ It’s like yeah. In a heart beat. Absolutely,” Brown said. “They think I’m nuts for it, but there’s just some brotherhood and something about that service too that I still want to do and that’s still my dream. So why not be a police officer and still continue to serve?”
Life after the military hasn’t been easy for Brown, with flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares.
“I’d wake up crying. I’d wake up screaming. You know, I’d wake up and just not know where I am and look for my rifle because that was our training,” Brown said.
He found relief in a rescue dog named Galilee.
“I call her my life saver,” Brown said. “She is my girl.”
“I call her my life saver. She is my girl.”
Inspired by his story, Kinmonth designed a special patch.
Each of his officers wear it and anyone can buy it for $20.
Every dollar made goes to the Patriot Guard Riders and the Puppy Jake Foundation, a charity that helps pair veterans with service dogs.
The department raised $400 from the first day of sales.
“Many times our veterans they come back and they kind of can get lost in the shuffle a little bit,” Kinmonth said. “If we can give a leg up and helping hand that’s a good day for us.”
Brown said he’s honored to wear the patch.
“I’m so happy it’s going to help other veterans to get a partner, to get someone who’s going to help them out in their lowest of times,” he said.
You can buy a patch directly from the West Liberty Police Department by sending a check or money order for $20 per patch to:
WLPD – Patch
409 North Calhoun Street
West Liberty, Iowa 52776
Patches are also available at West Liberty City Hall at 409 N Calhoun St.