Post 9/11 Army veteran battling PTSD pays it forward after getting second chance at life

Andrew Coughlan was a senior in high school when the 9/11 attacks happened 20 years ago.

“So many emotions going through me as I was watching it. I remember being glued to the TV for days and afterwards just watching and hoping and praying there was going to be more survivors,” Coughlan said.

Those horrific events inspired him to join the Army a few weeks later.

“Ironically, I landed in Bagdad on Sept 11th of 2003. So, two years later I’m now fighting a war,” he said.

Coughlan was just a kid going to fight with a bunch of other 18 and 19-year-olds barely out of high school.

At first, it was quiet in Iraq but that all changed after the first month.

Coughlan said his team leader and one of his best friends were both killed on July 19, 2004, in a mortar attack. Several men in his squad were also severely wounded.

He came back home a year later but the guilt of surviving followed him.

Coughlan didn’t want a big celebration while the families of his fallen brothers were grieving.

Feeling isolated, depressed, anxious and unable to sleep he was diagnosed with PTSD, but the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps veterans and active duty service members, gave him a second chance at life and 5 years ago, he paid it forward.

“I donated a kidney, he’s doing great, I’m doing great. I mean obviously we’re much closer now than we were when we served together in Iraq.” Coughlan said.

Two decades after the devastating attacks that changed America, Coughlan is now working with the Wounded Warrior Project to make sure that post 9/11 veterans like himself get the help and resources they need to keep on living.