Double amputee from Iraq war becomes Fort Worth police officer

FORT WORTH, Texas — A military veteran who lost both of his legs during his service in Iraq realized his dream Friday as he was sworn in as a police officer in Fort Worth.

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Zach Briseno, 35, who grew up in Fort Worth, is now a double amputee. But on Friday, Briseno was part of the police academy’s Class 148 that graduated, WFAA reported.

“Don’t give up. Leave the past in the past and keep moving forward,” Briseno told KXAS. “Our time tomorrow isn’t always promised. You’ve got to make the best today.”

The Fort Worth Police Department released a video about Briseno’s story on its Facebook page.

Briseno enlisted in the Marines after he graduated from high school.

While serving his second tour in Iraq, in 2007, his Humvee hit a roadside bomb, KXAS reported.

Briseno was returning home with his unit, traveling through the streets of Fallujah. The bomb hit the vehicle under Briseno’s seat, WFAA reported.

“I didn’t realize the severity of it, but right away I felt a tingling feeling, like if your foot falls asleep,” Briseno told the television station.

Briseno said he felt pain and a burning sensation in the lower half of his body. He said he remembers telling members of his unit, “Tell my son I love him,” WFAA reported.

Briseno was treated in Fallujah, then Germany and finally Bethesda, Maryland, the television station reported.

“I was in a rollercoaster of emotions,” Briseno said.

Please join us in congratulating Class 148!!!

Posted by Fort Worth Police Department on Friday, December 11, 2020

Briseno, who was awarded a Purple Heart by President George W. Bush, thought his dreams of becoming a police officer had ended. But after receiving prosthetic legs, he worked himself back into shape, KXAS reported. To him, becoming a police officer was not an obstacle.

“That part of people saying it’s a disability, that’s all in your mind,” Briseno told the television station. “You’re psyching yourself out at that point if you say, ‘I have this problem.’ No. How bad do you want it? How hard do you want to work for it?”

At the police academy graduation ceremony, Briseno was given the “most respected” award, voted on by recruits, and an award for most dedicated and determined recruit, which is handed out by the instructors, KXAS reported.

“You can do anything you want to do, you just really have to put the work in for it,” Briseno told WFAA. “It will cost you some blood, sweat and tears, but if you want it bad enough, you can do it.”