Retired U.S. Army 1st. Lieutenant- 1st female American soldier to lose a limb in active duty in Iraq
At first glance, Melissa Stockwell may appear to be the quintessential Mid western All American mom, but she is far more. She is an American war hero who has triumphed over personal tragedy to achieve greatness, World Champion status, and she has dedicated her life to chasing remarkable accomplishments while giving back to others, particularly those who face challenges similar to her own.
Melissa graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. She deployed to Baghdad, Iraq where a blast from a roadside bomb struck her Humvee, causing the loss of her left leg above the knee. After enduring numerous infections and surgeries, Melissa was medically retired from the Army. She is the first female soldier to ever loose a limb in active combat and has been awarded both The Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Following her accident, sports become the road to recovery for Melissa. In 2008, she became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Beijing Paralympics where she was honored by her fellow Team USA athletes to be the flag bearer in the Closing Ceremony. After Beijing, Melissa turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three time World Champion.
On September 11, 2016, at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Melissa raced in honor of her fellow soldiers and their families who had given the ultimate sacrifice serving and protecting America. After a grueling race, the day ended on the podium, as the newly crowned Paralympic Bronze
Six weeks before the 2021 Paralympics, Melissa broker her back in a training accident, derailing her hopes of winning a gold medal. Nevertheless, despite the pain, she managed to compete at the Paralympic Games, finishing 5 th . She is currently training for one more shot at a Paralympic Gold
Medal at the Paris Games in 2024.
Melissa has shared her remarkable story, and the inspiring insights she has uncovered along the way, to standing ovations across the country for
Fortune 500s, military bases, professional organizations, charities, government events and countless schools.
Baghdad to Beijing and Beyond
Melissa talks about overcoming obstacles, perseverance and living life to its fullest. Melissa fully believes that anyone can do anything that they put their mind to and hopes her audience walks away with a greater appreciation of life and an ‘I can do anything’ attitude.
“Melissa’s story inspires and drives home an important message fitting for any audience: success is driven by focusing on what you do have as opposed to what you don’t. What Melissa has already accomplished in her life is remarkable and it is clear her best is yet to come. “
The Chicago Bears
“Melissa Stockwell tells an American story that is all about inspiration and not at all about self pity. I have seen her bring a whole roomful of legislators to tears with her straight talk and sincere patriotism.”
Nancy Livingston Director of Community Relations and Outreach, Century College
“Thank you again for being our keynote speaker. The sharing of your experience gave all present a new heightened sense of our mission. You truly delivered a ‘gold medal’ message that a can do, must do direction is what it takes to succeed. You were amazing! Thank you.”
Anna Dodelin SRA International, Inc.
"Melissa, you forced us to take stock of how we view our own lives with your TEDxVail Talk, "Choose Your Story." We laughed when you flipped your leg completely around to show off your sweet new dance move. You stand on one leg with more courage and grace than many of us do on two. You moved hundreds to tears in the audience. Thanks, Melissa, for your powerful idea! You entice us all to choose life stories worth repeating."
Kat Haber TEDx Vail
The guests at our Kids Rank: Ribbons of Character Benefit were completely engaged and inspired by our honoree Melissa Stockwell. Her story of determination and perseverance all with an optimistic attitude were exactly why she was chosen for our annual award. Beyond her incredible combat story, it is her continuing life's journey and her ability to make a human connection with people which made her time with us an unforgettable experience.
Kelcey Liverpool Founder Kids Rank
“We knew Melissa's story would be inspirational. What blew us away was the power with which she told her story with a perfect mix of humility, humor, and the most positive spirit I've ever had the opportunity to witness. If you're looking for someone who can relate while providing perspective, challenge and inspire while being humble, and leave a lasting message around resilience and a winning attitude, you should reach out to Melissa immediately! She touched every member of our organization both professionally and personally, and left us wanting to be better in every aspect of our lives.”
Megan Bailey, Senior Marketing Manager Roche Diagnostics
“We were so happy to have Melissa speak at our Sales and Marketing Offsite. There was not a dry eye in the audience and she left us all feeling inspired, motivated and incredibly proud to have her on our team.”
Peter McGuinness Chief Marketing Officer Chobani
I can’t say enough about how great Melissa’s keynote was! She was amazing. So much inspiration. People are still talking about it! All the best to you and your team. It was wonderful working with her!