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CAPTAIN SCOTTY SMILEY, THE U.S. ARMY’S FIRST BLIND ACTIVE-DUTY OFFICER,
TO RECEIVE LEADERSHIP AWARD FROM THE CHRISTOPHERS


NEW YORK, April 25, 2011
—The Christophers announced today that Captain Scotty Smiley - the U.S. Army’s first blind active-duty officer and the current commander of the Warrior Transition Unit for ailing or wounded soldiers at West Point - will receive the 2011 Christopher Leadership Award during its 62nd Christopher Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 19.
         As part of the annual Christopher Awards which honor books, films and TV programs that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” the organization also presents special honors to worthy individuals and achievements. The Christopher Leadership Award recognizes those whose work, actions and example serve as a guiding light to others, inspiring them to lead lives that make a difference. Previous recipients include Peace Corps pioneer Sargent Shriver and PBS executive William F. Baker.
         This year’s honoree is Captain Scotty Smiley who, on April 6, 2005, was leading his platoon on patrol in Iraq when a car bomber blew himself up in front of them. Shrapnel and debris pierced Captain Smiley’s eyes and brain leaving him close to death. The young soldier ultimately survived but was crushed by the news he would never see again. He admits, “I definitely questioned God, whether He really existed.”
         While recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army moved to have Captain Smiley’s wife Tiffany follow standard procedure by signing papers that would “medically retire” her husband. At that time, it was widely accepted that blind people couldn’t serve in the Army. Believing that her husband might still have a future within the military, Tiffany resisted.
         After tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual struggles, Captain Smiley came to terms with his new reality with the help of his favorite Scripture quotation, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." He successfully fought to stay on active duty and went on to teach leadership at West Point, the school from which he had graduated. In addition, he earned an MBA from Duke University with assistance from his wife and a dedicated tutor. Some of his other achievements include climbing Washington’s Mt. Rainier with the Camp Patriot program which works with wounded warriors, and writing an autobiography called “Hope Unseen.”
         Captain Smiley now commands the Warrior Transition Unit for ailing or wounded soldiers at West Point. With a gre at number of American servicemen and women returning from war with serious injuries, his job is of critical importance as is the example he is setting. Despite his injury, Captain Smiley remains committed to living a life of service and admits his trust in God has been taken to new levels. He explains, “That belief in God has strengthened not only my ability to do more, but it’s given me the motivation to wake up every day with a smile on my face, to love my wife, to love my two boys, to just live every day to its fullest.”
         The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio and awards programs.

To read about the 2011 James Keller Award Winner, Click Here
To read about the 2011 Christopher Award winners for Books, Television and Film, Click Here