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Iraq War vet shares story of strength, hope with at-risk children

April 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Iraq War veteran LeShonda Gill has found a special calling after her life was spared more than once in inner-city streets and on the battlefield. She's hoping kids learn from her experiences without going through her pain.

Sgt. Gill spoke to dozens of foster care and at-risk youth in Santa Clarita on Wednesday.

"Everything I've been through in my life up until this point has made me be able to come here and talk to you guys," she told the children. "People say I'm a hero, 'You went to the war.' Please, I went to war before I ever joined the military and I made it out because I made it out of the 'hood."

Gill said she had been shot twice, once in the leg and once in the back, and stabbed four times by the time she was 18.

Gill suffered major physical and emotional wounds nearly a decade ago when her Army convoy's humvee hit a roadside bomb in Iraq and exploded. Gill said after losing eight of her Army buddies in that tragedy, she decided to devote her life to saving young lives at home.

The reason she cares about at-risk youth, Gill said, is because she used to be one of them.

"These kids, they mean a lot to me because I didn't have somebody that could come in and talk to me when I was them," she said as tears streamed down her face, "but I'm here."

The kids said they felt inspired by Gill's heartfelt words.

"It was sad, it was very sad," said 13-year-old Sky Island. "Her speech, it was heart-touching."

Gill said she believes she survived the bombing in Iraq for a reason, to give hope to kids who really need it.


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