|Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, Jr., (r) receiving recognition in a ceremony during convalescence|
He had other plans. He planned on a proposal of marriage to his girlfriend. They are married now, but “My wife has to lead me around,” he said in response to a prosecutor's questions. “It makes it hard to have a normal relationship.”
On Nov. 5, 2009, he testified, he was sitting in the waiting room at the Soldier Readiness Center when four shots from Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's handgun devastated his life.
A college graduate with a bachelor's degree in International Relations, he now has the cognitive abilities of a high school student in the 10th or 11th grade.
He is paralyzed on his left side as a result of a bullet wound that caused the immediate removal of 20 percent of his brain. His left arm and hand are paralyzed; it's the first thing you notice as he limps to the witness chair because his left foot is also paralyzed.
He has experienced an additional 10 surgical procedures on his brain over an initial 11-month period of hospitalization following the 2009 attack. There will be more surgeries over the next 10 to 12 years.
His vision is afflicted with blind spots, and he has no peripheral vision. He is unable to drive a car.
He is unable to pick up his infant child from the floor. He is unable to help with household chores.
It is doubtful he will ever hold a job.
His mental state is prone to depression and episodes of anger. “I'm a lot angrier and a lot darker than I used to be.”
“Eventually I will succumb to my wounds.”
The future holds a bleak prospect for Sgt. Zeigler. He is due to be medically retired in the near future.
Will he ever be able to function independently?
“I don't know.”
Sgt. Zeigler is one of 19 in-person witnesses scheduled to testify today in the sentencing phase of the General Court Martial of Nidal Malik Hasan, M.D., an individual who has served a total of 12 years of broken service in the Army, beginning in 1995, who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because of his devotion to Islam.
According to Col. Steven Henricks, he used his training as a medical doctor to direct his fire at the most vulnerable areas of his victims' bodies in an effort to sustain the maximum amount of damage.
When the prosecution passed the witness, Major Hasan said he has no questions for Sgt. Zeigler.
When dismissed by Judge (Col.) Tara Osborn, Sgt. Zeigler stumbled as he made his way down the step and a half riser from the witness chair to leave the courtroom by a door the bailiff held for him.
With a great deal of effort, he half-stepped and skipped, then caught himself and prevented an embarrassing and dangerous fall.
In the beginning of the day's testimony, the judge admonished the gallery that they should remain quiet and conduct themselves in a calm, quiet and dignified manner. If unable to do that, they should leave.
This concludes this observer's news report for the day.