Soldier, Son of Machinists, Fights Back From Brain Injury

Click here to view the new Machinists News Network video featuring U.S. Army soldier Ryan Soto
Ryan Soto

U.S. Army soldier Ryan Soto, son of IAM Local 698 members Mark and Robin Ward, tells a riveting story of the attack that left him with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a new Machinists News Network video.

A third generation Airborne Infantryman, Soto was on the final mission of a 15-month deployment in Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed. Soto suffered shrapnel wounds to his face, legs and arms and was shot in the chest and head.

At age 21, Soto became one of thousands of soldiers who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBI.

“I would walk to the cafeteria to go eat and forget where I was going and turn back around,” said Soto. “I wouldn’t eat for a couple days because I couldn’t remember to eat.”

Soto’s struggle, along with others suffering from TBI, was chronicled in “Along Recovery,” a documentary by filmmaker Justin Springer. Soto now helps other soldiers recover from injury as part of the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

“People need to be aware that even though our soldiers come back, they have all four limbs and they’re all intact, on the inside, they’re really not all there,” said Robin Ward about the veterans dealing with PTSD and TBI.

Along the way, IAM Local 698 (Romulus, MI) offered support and assistance so Robin could see her son while he was recovering in San Antonio. Like the Machinists Union as a whole, they also send care packages and have welcome home celebrations for soldiers and their families.

“They’ve been there when we needed them,” said Mark Ward. “That makes us proud to be IAM members.”