EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island police officer who lost both legs in Afghanistan is now working to bring the amputee community together.
Officer Matias Ferreira has been on the job with the Suffolk County Police Department for three years, and most people he runs into would have no idea both his legs were amputated.
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It happened in 2011, when Ferreira was a 21-year-old Marine and stepped on an improvised explosive device.
“I remember my corpsman just running up and start applying the tourniquets and start getting me some morphine and ripping my pants and telling me everything is going to be okay,” Ferreira told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu on Thursday.
He had planned to dedicate his life to the Marines.
“My back-up plan was if I didn’t serve 20 years in the Marine Corps that I was going to be a law enforcement officer,” Ferreira said.
So, six years after losing his legs Ferreira graduated from the Suffolk County Police Academy. He is believed to be the first active double-amputee police officer in the nation.
Hsu caught up with him while he was kicking off the first amputee support group in the county, at Momentum at South Bay Rehabilitation and Nursing in East Islip.
“I have a 5-year-old daughter so I don’t want anyone to ever tell her she can’t do something. So one of the mottos we came up with is, ‘Life without a limb is limitless,'” Ferreira said.
Officer Ferreira skydives, plays softball, runs marathons, and really loves encouraging other amputees. Keicha Wynn lost her leg to bone cancer 10 years ago.
“I wish I would’ve known about support groups back then, because it would have educated me on prosthetics, healing process,” Wynn said.
She now helps counsel other amputees, and helps spread awareness.
“Don’t look at us as something is wrong with us. We’re just a little different, but we can still do the same thing. It just may take a little longer,” Wynn said.
Wynn and Officer Ferreira want everyone to remember life is a gift, and we should never take it for granted.
The support meetings will be held once a month at the rehabilitation center. Amputees from anywhere in the Tri-State Area are invited to join.