Rusty Ouart re-enlisted in the North Dakota National Guard in 2006 after the attacks of 9-11 and was sent for a tour of duty in Iraq, where, in 2008, he was struck by the concussive blast and shrapnel from two, 155mm mortar rounds fired into his camp. Following a period of recovery, after which he was deemed fit to return to duty, Rusty fell victim to lingering, and previously unforeseen, effects of his injuries – vertigo, short-term memory loss, debilitating headaches, and constant fatigue. Rusty returned to the United States, retired and was honorably discharged from military duty.
Rusty immediately began an intensive rehabilitation campaign. He credits his recovery to Dr. Paul G. Harch's hyperbaric oxygen medicine practice in New Orleans. Rusty is working with Congress to get the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to cover hyperbaric treatments for veterans returning from battle with traumatic brain injury (TBI). As a result of his advocacy, Rusty has become a nationally recognized advocate for all Wounded Warriors and particularly those service members who have suffered from TBI. Rusty has helped Congressional members craft and support legislation affecting Veterans’ rights.
Rusty never sought reward or recognition for his efforts. His belief in the greatness of military service members, current and past, compels him to work on their behalf.
Last February, almost four years after being wounded by those mortar blasts, Rusty Ouart received the Purple Heart in a meaningful ceremony in Fargo, ND. That award brought closure to an event, but Rusty’s story is far from finished. He embraces the road ahead and walks the path for all veterans.