American War Hero – U.S. Paralympian – Three Time World Champion Triathlete
At first glance Melissa Stockwell may appear to be the quintessential Mid-western All-American girl, but she is far more. She is an American war hero who has triumphed over personal tragedy to achieve greatness, World Champion status, and she has dedicated her life to chasing remarkable accomplishments while giving back to others, particularly those who face challenges similar to her own.
In 2002, Melissa graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. In March 2004, she deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Just three weeks later, a blast from a roadside bomb struck Melissa’s Humvee causing the loss of her left leg above the knee. After enduring numerous infections and surgeries, Melissa was medically retired from the Army. She is the first female to ever lose a limb in active combat.
Following her military career, athletics become a way of life for Melissa. In April of 2008, she became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Paralympics. She competed in three swimming events and was honored by her fellow Team USA athletes to be selected to carry the American flag in the closing ceremonies. After Beijing, Melissa turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three-time World Champion. She was named USAT’s female Paratriathlete of the Year for two consecutive years, was twice nominated for an ESPY award and has completed an Ironman.
In 2007, Melissa completed the prosthetic practitioner program at Century College in Minnesota where she learned to fit other amputees with artificial limbs. She currently works as a certified prosthetist at Scheck and Siress Prosthetics in Chicago. She is also a level 1 certified triathlon coach and co-founder of the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club, helping others with disabilities enjoy the sport of triathlon and embrace active living.
Melissa has shared her remarkable story, and the inspiring insights she has uncovered along the way, to standing ovations across the country for Fortune 500s, military bases, professional organizations, charities, government events and countless schools. Recently (January) she was a breakout star of TEDx Vail 2016.
Melissa has been featured in countless media outlets including People, Sports Illustrated, The Chicago Tribune and a Triathlon Magazine cover story. She was also featured in the documentary ‘From Baghdad to Beijing’ which chronicled Melissa and 3 other wounded warriors’ journey from the Roads of Baghdad to the Paralympics Games.
Melissa is proud to have served her country as a member first of The U.S. Army and now as part of Team USA. At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil, Iraqi War Vet Melissa Stockwell completed a remarkable dream-come-true journey to claim the bronze medal on the beach in Rio de Janeiro at the first-ever Paralympic triathlon event. On November 24, 2014 she welcomed her first child, son Dallas Patrick.