Wounded Warrior Kirstie Ennis Kicks Ass As The First Vet To Grace The Cover Of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue

Health & Fitness

Marine veteran, mountain climber, amputee athlete, and all-around badass Kirstie Ennis recently made the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s annual Body Issue, the first veteran to grace its cover. The yearly spread features nude and semi-nude photos of male and female athletes from all sports and vocations, both on and off the field, as a testament to the perseverance of both the human body and will — something Ennis captures perfectly.


When @espn asked me to be apart of their #BodyIssue, I was honored. When I found out I made the cover, I actually cried. Initially, I was reluctant to make myself so vulnerable by sharing my story and taking the photos. People tell me I'm strong quite often, but really Im strong because of the people around me. This ones for every man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity. You control your circumstances, they don't control you. Find your passion, and let it consume you. If a little one legged lady can climb rocks and chase mountains, I promise you, you can do whatever it is your heart desires. Thank you to everyone involved! #climbing #climbon #leftlegless On a lighter note, if you don't like butt cracks or tattoos, don't look! 😉

A post shared by Kirstie Ennis (@kirstie_ennis) on

"Find your passion, and let it consume you,” Ennis wrote on Instagram, where she posted a photo of the new cover on June 30 . “If a little one-legged lady can climb rocks and chase mountains, I promise you, you can do whatever it is your heart desires.”

For Ennis, her decision to pose for the magazine came down to one thing: Don’t set any limits for yourself.

“I really thought about it and thought about the demographic and the people that would see it and I really realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,”  she told People magazine. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has a potential to be inspired by these pictures and seeing somebody who only has been missing their leg for a few years go out and do things that she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Related: Stand And Deliver: That ‘One Leg Monster’ On War, Pain, And Powerlifting »

On June 23, 2012, Ennis was critically injured in a helicopter crash while serving as an aerial door gunner in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, suffering a traumatic brain injury that resulted in memory loss, as well as severe damage to her face, spine, left leg and shoulders.

“I was kind of ripped apart,” Ennis said of her injuries in a previous interview with The Veterans Project. “The last thing I remember was the screaming I heard. I was kind of in-and-out from there. My leg was mangled and snapped, my right shoulder was destroyed, I could fit my fist through my face and my jaw was completely destroyed. … From that moment on, I was just fighting to stay awake.”

After years of surgeries and physical rehabilitation, Ennis’ left leg was amputated below the knee in November 2015, but an infection resulted in a second amputation above the knee. A lifelong athlete, Ennis returned to sports as part of her recovery, competing in the 2016 Invictus Games and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this past April, and is believed to be one of the first female above-the-knee amputee to do so.

“It’s the six inches between your ears and what’s behind your ribcage that really makes the difference,” Ennis said in her interview with ESPN. “Forty-four surgeries, years of therapies, years of learning how to use my brain and body again, but I’ve yet to let it beat me down.”

WATCH NEXT:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Kirstie Ennis received a Purple Heart. (Updated 7/4/17, 12:01 a.m. EST).

Photo via The Veterans Project
(U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexandria Crawford)

A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.

The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."

Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.

What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.

"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."

Read More Show Less

The F-35 Joint Strike Program may be the most expensive weapons program in modern military history, but it looks as though the new border wall is giving the beleaguered aircraft a run for its money.

Read More Show Less

EGLIN AFB — With gratitude for its seven years at Eglin and enthusiasm for the future in California, the Navy's first F-35C strike fighter squadron furled its flag in a Thursday morning ceremony.

The F-35C is the "carrier variant" version of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, designed specifically to operate from aircraft carriers.

"Today, we turn into the wind and launch on an aggressive path to deploy the F-35C," said Navy Capt. Max G. McCoy, commander of the Joint Strike Fighter Wing.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- Loose lips sink ships, but do they reveal too much about the hugely anticipated "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," filmed onboard in February?

Not on this carrier, they don't. Although sailors here dropped a few hints about spotting movie stars around the ship as it was docked in San Diego for the film shoot, no cats — or Tomcats — were let out of the bag.

"I can't talk about that," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who commands the Roosevelt.

Read More Show Less
(British Ministry of Defense)

Robots in the air, on the ocean surface and on the ground guarded British Royal Marines as they stormed a beach during an important April 2019 war game.

The ground robot, in particular, is a new capability for the Royal Marines. The gun- and rocket-armed, tank-like unmanned ground vehicle could boost the naval branch's firepower while helping to keep human beings out of harm's way.

Alpha Company of the Royal Marines' 40 Commando and their robot guardians stormed a beach in Cornwall in southwest England as part of Exercise Commando Warrior. The Royal Marines' 1 Assault Group supported the naval infantry.

Read More Show Less