For generations, soldiers have been honored at the White House for valor under fire. And no one questions the heroism of Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter, who raced through a hail of bullets to rescue a wounded comrade and helped keep Taliban fighters from overrunning a combat post in Afghanistan.
But when Carter, 33, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama on Monday, he was venerated not just for his actions on the battlefield but also for those after the shooting was over. Back in the U.S. after a war that killed too many comrades, Carter has become a symbol of the courage not only to face the enemy, but to face what comes next.
“Ty has spoken openly, with honesty and extraordinary eloquence, about his struggle with post-traumatic stress — the flashbacks, the nightmares, the anxiety, the heartache that makes it sometimes almost impossible to get through a day,” Obama said before draping the medal around his neck. But with the help of the Army, the president said, Carter received treatment and stands as a repudiation of the stigma many soldiers feel.
“Let me say it as clearly as I can to any of our troops or veterans who are watching and struggling,” Obama said. “Look at this man. Look at this soldier. Look at this warrior. He’s as tough as they come, and if he can find the courage and the strength to not only seek help but also to speak out about it, to take care of himself and to stay strong, then so can you.”
Carter, a married father of three from Antioch, Calif., was the fifth living member of the military to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in the Afghanistan War. He was the second to receive it for actions in the battle of Kamdesh recounted in a book by Jake Tapper of CNN, “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor.” Obama honored former Sgt. Clinton Romesha in February.
When Combat Outpost Keating, manned by about 50 U.S. troops, was attacked from all sides by about 300 Taliban fighters early on the morning of Oct. 3, 2009, Carter rushed in. He twice ran through a 100-yard gantlet of enemy fire to aid the defense of the outpost and, wounded by shrapnel, killed several attackers. He ran out again into a storm of fire to a wounded colleague, stanched the bleeding, placed a tourniquet on his leg and carried him through the shots to safety.
President Barack Obama applauds Monday after awarding U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.×