AURORA, Colo. — Tony Drees was wounded in a Scud missile attack during the first Gulf War nearly 30 years ago. Last year, his injuries turned even more serious. But it wasn’t much of a setback at all.
Drees has had 74 surgeries in 27 years – most of them to save his leg. An Army veteran, he was in Saudi Arabia in 1991 when a Scud missile attack was launched on the US military barracks. The attack killed 27 US service members, and left him with a projectile in his leg.
“In the very beginning, I knew that losing my leg was a reality some day,” Drees told FOX31.
That reality arrived a year ago, when a bone infection and cancerous tumor led to the amputation of his right leg. The surgery also left him with a choice.
“And so if they’re going to cut off my leg, I either ‘get’ to do the rest of my life cancer free, or I ‘got’ to do it without a leg,” Drees said.
That positive approach is why the Purple Heart recipient doesn’t let anything stop him. Skiing? No problem. Traveling around giving motivational speeches? Absolutely. And part of his renewed resolve is also spreading the word about veteran causes. Which is why he now leads Veterans Passport to Hope – a non-profit that raises money for, and gives grants to, veterans charities in Colorado. Last year, they raised $100,000.
“We act as the pathway not only for folks to find a place to volunteer, but a one-stop-shop to donate, and know that everything is staying in their local veteran community,” Drees said.
Since it’s clear Drees inspires every veteran he meets, we wanted to let him know how much he inspires us, too. That’s why we named him the FOX31 Problem Solvers Serving Those Who Serve “Hero of the Month.” A well deserved honor for a true hero. And with it comes a $250 Visa gift card from our Serving Those Who Serve sponsors, Rocky Mountain Honda Dealers. It’s money Tony can spend on whatever he wants, although dog food might be a good choice, considering the size of Diva, his 125 pound Italian Mastiff. She’s his companion and service dog. And she pulls Tony on his wheelchair at lightning speed.
To learn about the mission of Tony’s charity, Veteran’s Passport to Hope, click here. You can also nominate a veteran, active duty service member, military family member or volunteer to be our next Hero of the Month by clicking here.