Retired Navy Officer overcomes stroke in time for Veterans day

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- Veterans Day is a celebration for men and women across the country. But for one Nebraska veteran, being alive and home this Veterans Day is a blessing.

For Gunner James serving his country was an honor, but it was also his job to keep the country safe. And, to ensure every American citizen had freedom.

Now, freedom has a new meaning for the retired Navy Officer after suffering a stroke.

After 28 years in the Navy and 47 years of celebrating Veterans Day, Gunner wasn't sure he would be able to celebrate this year.

"I thought I'd never have a stroke," said Gunner.

But this September he did.

"You don't know what the next day is going to happen to you," said Gunner.

With bleeds in three different parts of his brain.

"I was thinking but it wasn't coming out. And then when I couldn't write I knew I was in trouble," said Gunner.

Determined to get back home, he want to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital-Lincoln.

"Physically he could come in and he could walk. But talking and then that logical reasoning kind of problem-solving through some of the high level skills is where he struggled at," said Virginia Schweitzer, his work re-entry therapist.

"You know trying to talk, trying to read, trying to write, multi-tasking," said Gunner.

But with therapy like sorting items, using memorization and putting things together, he's almost back to 100 percent.

"We've come a long ways," said Gunner.

"Gunner is very motivated," said Schweitzer.

The motivation, he said, runs in his blood.

"I'm very driven and disciplined on what I do. And, I think that's what drove me to get better," said Gunner.

Gunner said his dedication came from the Navy and pushed him to climb his way from a Seaman Recruit to a Chief Warrant Officer. And now, back home.

"And I just said to myself, I'm going to beat this. That's were I come from," said Gunner.

Since retiring from the Navy, Gunner has been working at Duncan Aviation. He plans to go back to work December 4th. His final day of therapy is Wednesday.