ENOREE, S.C. (WSPA) – In 2002, Lauren James was a freshman in college studying to be a nurse when she decided to join the military. She said it all started with an argument with her dad.

“He told me to find my own way to pay for college so I guess I would take it more seriously…” James explained. “And I went and talked to a recruiter that day. I wanted to make sure I could get my college education.”

James said she wanted to graduate debt-free, so she joined the Army as a Combat Medic.

But, just one month shy of finishing school, James received a letter.

“And it was from the President saying that you’ve been activated to go to Afghanistan,” said James.

But nonetheless, James told 7 NEWS she was ready for it.

“I wanted to go,” James said. “I feel like that’s part of it. You train for it your entire career.”

James said it was boots on the ground and full force the minute she got off the plane.

“They put me with the infantry, in the mountains of Afghanistan,” she said. “And that’s where a lot of bad things happened.”

A year into her deployment James was badly hurt.

“And we got hit by an I.E.D. and I was in a humvee that was further back, but it still caused us to roll,” James explained. “And that caused me to have a traumatic brain injury.”

James said the injury has caused all sorts of health problems from several seizures a day to significant memory loss.

“I don’t remember the accident,” James shared. “I don’t remember anything after.”

Or events from her childhood.

James said she has a two-week memory span.

“The memory loss, PTSD, anxiety, depression, now I’ve got diabetes on top of it,” James explained.

She said regardless of the impact, she’s glad she got to serve her country.

“But I hate that my life has turned around so much to where I don’t feel like I am a productive member of society,” she expressed.

James said her outlet is animals.

“My horses are really good therapy for me,” James said. “When I’m up there, and I can ride, I forget about all the other stuff that I battle with every day.”

And her service dog Bella.

“To let me know if I’m gonna have a seizure. She knows how to treat me if I am having one, how to alert me,” James said. “And then, of course, just her presence makes me feel more safe and secure.”

Even living through trauma and struggles, James remains humble.

“I don’t feel like I deserve special recognition. I say that because I feel like I didn’t finish my tour of duty,” James said. “But women can go out and do anything they want to and if I can be an inspiration to somebody else… Then that’s wonderful.”

Lauren James, Thank You for Your Service.

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