Music plays an important role in Sal Gonzalez’s life. He has a song for every occasion, both good and bad. That love of music has helped Sal persevere through some of the greatest hardships in life, including his emotional response to the events of 9/11.
‘‘That tragedy inspired me to join the military,’’ says Sal. ‘‘The fact that I come from a family of immigrants propelled me to want to join. I wanted to give back for all this country has given us.’’
After joining the United States Marine Corps on October 21, 2003, Sal was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines as a machine gunner. A year later, he found himself in Ramadi, Iraq, where he gave back much more for his country than he anticipated.
‘‘I was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) and was in a coma for about a week,’’ says Sal. ‘‘I woke up at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Months later, my left leg was amputated below the knee.’’
It was during his stay at Bethesda that Sal first became involved with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). He was invited to participate in a Project Odyssey®, where he learned to rock climb, in spite of his injuries. This experience inspired him to stay involved with WWP and to continue his focus on music, both of which were vital to his recovery.
‘‘I work on writing songs every afternoon. Playing and writing music has always been my passion, and luckily, my injury has not affected that at all. I’m always striving to improve and earn that next standing ovation — which I’ve been lucky to have had many in my career.’’
Sal’s talent with music has garnered him an appearance on NBC’s ‘‘America’s Got Talent’’ and the television show ‘‘Nashville.’’ He also recently performed with country music star Keith Urban, which was a highlight of his career. His ultimate goal would be a record deal, but his primary motivation comes from his fellow injured warriors.
‘‘You can never forget that life has inspiration all around us. Just look at all the wounded service members in WWP who are such good role models. Those are the men and women I admire most.’’