As the Panthers celebrate military heroes this weekend for the Salute to Service game, a loyal fan in the team's own backyard specializes in a life of leadership and service.
Joseph Hsu, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, vice-chair of quality at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute and a veteran himself, uses his training and skills to help numerous veterans recover from their injuries.
Among Dr. Hsu's patients is Ben Breckheimer, an Army veteran who in 2009 suffered a debilitating injury in Afghanistan that led to multiple limb salvage surgeries, among other procedures. But the Purple Heart recipient didn't let injuries stop him from becoming a renowned mountaineer who has climbed all but one peak in the fabled "Seven Summits."
Another patient is Ryan Hendrickson, a Green Beret who, in 2010, stepped on a mine in Afghanistan and subsequently underwent 28 surgeries to save his right leg from amputation. He returned to Afghanistan less than two years later and deployed there several times afterward, eventually receiving the Silver Star.
Dr. Hsu says patients like Hendrickson and Breckheimer helped pave the way for civilians recovering from catastrophic injuries to their limbs. "Those wounded warriors demanded high-level function," Dr. Hsu says. "They wanted to climb mountains and go back to war, do high-level things. They pushed us."
Dr. Hsu graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He then went on to serve in Iraq during some of American troops' fiercest encounters with enemy forces. He was even awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his years of service – the fourth highest-ranking award a service member can receive for a heroic and meritorious deed performed in conflict.