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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Tennessee double amputee veteran chases truck driving dream

A dream decades in the making was nearly taken away from a local veteran.
Erin Schaefer.jpg1_1550124345140.jpg-873703986.jpg

A dream decades in the making was nearly taken away from a local veteran. 

Outside of Christiana though, for the last several weeks, he’s worked to achieve this goal. 

“My dad was a trucker so that’s all I’ve known,” said Erin Schaefer, an Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just love the open road, being out there with the truck. Just myself and my thoughts.”

Those thoughts sometimes take him back to the Army and his final term in Afghanistan. 

It was on this trip in 2010, that he was in the wrong truck at the wrong time. 

“Was out on a convoy taking supplies from one base to the next. Came to a halt because the other truck in the rear of our convoy had become disabled,” he explained. “Started moving again, and the IED blast went off.”

Erin is now an amputee, losing both his legs below the knee. 

“There’s dark days out there,” he said. “Depression, I’ve had to fight through them. But man, lately I’ve kind of forgotten about them.”

He’s found new life, thanks in part to an old passion. 

Erin is now seeking his CDL, at the Truck Driver Institute (TDI) outside Christiana. 

“He was really ready and motivated, and excited to be here, and to be finally following a dream,” noted Alex Hamlin, Admissions Recruiter at TDI. 

“I was like man I love to drive,” said Erin. “There’s got to be a way to get back into the industry, back to do what I like to do.”

Given his handicap, Erin has hurdles to overcome. If he’s certified, he’ll only be able to drive automatic trucks. 

He also says, learning to have control of the pedals has been a learning process. 

But instructors say Erin excels in class, and he’s now in the homestretch. 

“Don’t let anybody tell you no,” he said. “You can get out there and drive a truck. Whatever your handicap disabilities are, don’t let it limit you.”