Capt. Derek Herrera shares his incredible story with the hope of advocating for the Special Operations and Paralysis communities.
While leading his team on patrol in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on June 24, 2012, former MARSOC Officer Captain Derek Herrera, was shot in the spine and instantly paralyzed. When he returned to the U.S., Derek spent six months in rehabilitation at a Veteran’s hospital in Florida.
He and his wife, Maura, then moved back to their home in California, where he worked as the Battalion Future Operations Officer at Camp Pendleton. Derek was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 2014. His personal decorations include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Bronze Star (with combat distinguishing device), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Since that time, Derek earned a Master’s of Business Administration at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and has also spent his time rehabilitating, recovering, and researching Spinal Cord injuries. Derek recently founded Spinal Singularity, a company that designs devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease.
“In most respects, I would say that getting shot and paralyzed is a wholly negative event. Conversely, the path I have traveled has been absolutely incredible. I am not the least bit sad, bitter, or angry. I feel content, excited, and anxious because I still have the opportunity to achieve goals I have set for myself. Every day is an opportunity for me to do something lasting and meaningful. Every day I think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and no longer have the opportunities that I do. The past few years have not been easy, but I have found a new cause that I am as passionate about pursuing as I was while leading Marines and Sailors in the Special Operations Community. I get up every day excited. I get out of bed knowing the problems I am trying to solve and the impact I hope to have on people’s lives. I have this opportunity because of everyone who helped me become a Marine Special Operations Officer, the men who saved my life by risking their lives, and those who have been there to support me every step of the way since I was injured. It is because of you that I am alive and it is because of you that I continue to fight every day to create positive change. Thank you!” Read more here.
He and his team are currently working to develop the Connected Catheter, the world’s first semi-permanent, fully internal, smart catheter system. Derek is passionate about the work he does to support multiple non-profit organizations and sits on the Board of Directors for the Marine Raider Foundation in an effort to give back.