AUGUSTA — While recovering in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1991 after losing his right foot in northern Iraq, Todd Reed said he surprised his doctor by asking if he would be able to play softball again.

The doctor at the U.S. Army hospital in Washington D.C. told him most people are more concerned about what they’re going to do for a living.

“It’s always been a huge part of my life,” Reed said. “If I can play softball again, I’m not worried what I can do for a job. I can do whatever I want.”

On Friday, Reed took the field in Augusta with the rest of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team — a group of veterans and active-duty soldiers who have lost limbs and now tour the country playing exhibition softball games.

Reed, 53, said the team uses softball as a way to inspire others and show that even after a traumatic injury, people can still go out and do things.

“Goals we had and things we did prior to our injuries, we are still doing today,” he said.

Reed, of Whispering Pines, N.C., has been playing with the team since 2012. He played against the team as a police officer in Mesa, Ariz. Someone from a nearby police department hosting the game invited Reed to play because he knew Reed was an amputee veteran.

After the game, the founder and manager of the team, David Van Sleet, invited Reed to join them.

The Wounded Warrior team played a team of employees from VA Maine Healthcare Systems at Togus on Friday at the Mount Vernon Avenue softball field. At 1 p.m. Saturday, the team will play a Maine National Guard team at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

Donald Duplessis, the special events coordinator for Maine Patriot Guard Riders and a member of the committee that brought the group to Maine, said he’s expecting a big turnout for the game Saturday.

“A great bunch of guys, a great bunch of guys,” said Duplessis, 60, during the game Saturday. “They’ve all been through a lot, and they bounced back. They’ve got some very impressive stories to tell.”

While driving the players around, Duplessis, a U.S. Army veteran from Augusta, said he found out he and Reed actually served close together during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Although Reed served in the U.S. Army between 1980 and 1992, most of the 25-man team served in the most recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rick Wilk, who turns 24 Saturday, served in both Haiti and Iraq. While on duty at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2010, Wilk was hit by a drunk driver, causing him to lose his right leg.

“I thought my life was over,” he said.

Wilk joined the Wounded Warrior team after playing a game against them in April in San Antonio. He said the biggest message people take from the team is the importance of perseverance.

“We travel around the country to share a message of hope, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s the best comeback story you’ll ever hear,” Wilk said.

For Reed, the most powerful moments have been at the softball camp the team holds for children with amputations or missing limbs.

“It’s so cool to see them watch us and see the things we can do,” he said.

“We’ve had kids come up and go, ‘I wondered if I’d ever be able to do that, but after watching you guys, I can do whatever I want.’ It’s like — click — just seeing the switch come on,” Reed said. “That they’re starting to understand that yes, you have something different or you’re wearing a prosthetic leg or prosthetic arm, but you should still set your goals as high as you want. And you shouldn’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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