Sam Steirman is a LC-M High School graduate and a 22 year army veteran. He sustained a traumatic brain injury from an IED in Iraq. He now helps other soldiers transition into civilian life at the Hickok Center for Brain Injury where he won the 2014 Community Hero Award. Courtesy Photo

What’s most impressive about America’s military heroes is that they never give up and they never stop serving.

One soldier who exemplifies that spirit is First Sergeant Sam Steirman, age 42, and a 1990 graduate of Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School. In fact, he received the 2014 Community Hero Award in Rochester, N.Y. for assisting veterans transition back to civilian life after he received a traumatic brain injury serving in Iraq and for his community service. Steirman was told he was to receive an award from the Hickok Center for Brain Injury. He soon discovered the award was much bigger than he originally thought.

“I feel humbled to accept an award from an organization like the Hickok Center. The work they do is irreplaceable. Men and women go there daily to improve their quality of life. And I can appreciate that for what it is,” Steirman said on Steirman spent 22 years in the army. His service ended when he suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq.

“It was from and IED strike in Iraq. Probably more than one incident. Whether it was a direct hit to us or a hit that was near us that caused a concussion. I can’t pinpoint down when it happened. But along the way it happened,” he said.

The Hickok Center serves about 100 people like Steirman who suffer from brain injuries. While Steirman never received services from Hickok, the center chose him as its hero for giving back to others. He helps veterans transition back into the community.

“Somebody that has done so much for the community after going through so much himself. Just the fact that he mentors veterans coming back into the community after being active service is such a valuable thing for people. It gives me the goose bumps when I think about it. What he’s been through and what he gives back,” said Elaine Comarella, Hickok Center CEO.

Steirman’s story also touched the heart of State Senator Ted O’Brien. He presented him with a legislative resolution that will also be read in Albany, N.Y. His mother also saw the change in her son after returning from Iraq and she’s grateful with the progress he has made.

“After coming back from Iraq, he had problems. He was not the same person,” said Kathy Steirman, his mother. “He had bouts of depression, memory problems- both long-term and short-term, and his personality changed.”

Steirman was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and hospitalized twice. It was while being hospitalized he discovered the Warrior Salute Program which is about therapy and transforming lives.

“He lives there (The Hickok Center) and he helps other soldiers. He’s going to college and majoring in social work,” she said. He received the award on March 23 in recognition of what a person can accomplish even after a TBI.

“He was stunned. There were three different TV stations at the ceremony,” Kathy Steirman said. Steirman also has a service dog named Bailey that goes everywhere with him. Steirman served as a scout in light and heavy infantry reconnaissance squadrons and detachments.

He served as a sniper and sniper detachment leader. He was a squad leader, section leader, platoon sergeant and first sergeant. He taught at the U.S. Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, Ky. while there he was awarded the Top NCO of the Year award. He also attended the platoon leader course, the military mountaineering course, the army sniper course and the anti-terrorism course. His medals include three bronze stars, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Combat Action Badge, six army commendation medals. 14 army achievement medals, six good conduct medals and nine overseas ribbons. Steirman served in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Ft. Stewart, Ga., twice in Korea, Ft. Knox, Ky. and a deployment to Iraq twice while assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, N.Y. TBIHe returned in 2012 from Ft. Drum after 22 years in the army. He’s the father of two girls- Rachel who is 10 and Megan who is 9.

“He has always wanted to be in the army, like his grandfather who spent 32 years in the army. He always wanted to be a soldier,” she said. “We’re very proud of him. Not only for his service, but also for how he carried on.”