Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry Speaks to Soldiers at Alaskan Military Bases

Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry visited soldiers at Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright located near Fairbanks, Alaska this past July. Petry, who is the official ambassador and quality control advocate for the Extra Mile Military Care program at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital, spoke to Airmen and civilian employees during his visit. Petry is currently advocating for mental health services that are available for active military personnel and veterans.


During his visit, The Daily Miner, Fairbanks local newspaper chronicled the retired Master Sergeant’s events.


The front-page article detailed the events that earned Petry his Medal of Honor. The following is an excerpt from that article:

Team EMMC at Fort Wainwright, Alaska

“Master Sgt. Leroy Petry is a retired Army Ranger who received the military’s highest honor for grabbing a grenade thrown near him and saving the life of fellow soldiers during a 2008 attack on a Taliban compound in Afghanistan’s Paktia province”.


Petry spoke about how important it is for soldiers and airmen to take care of their mental health, and to be aware of mental health services available to them.


Programs such as the Extra Mile Military Care help active military personnel and veterans get the help needed.


The goal of the Extra Mile Military Care program is to see veteran patients succeed in personal and professional endeavors while overcoming depression, anxiety attacks, substance abuse or PTSD.


At Eielson Air Force Base, Petry met with the base commander and with Air Force clinicians, discussing treatments and options for soldiers who need to seek mental health services.


Petry also met with members of the Army’s elite MEDEVAC unit at Fort Wainwright and several Gold Star Families afterward at the USO.  Gold Star Families are those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

MSG Petry with Gold Star Families at Fort Wainwright, Alaska


Petry’s service dog Tommy accompanied him throughout the entire visit. Also visiting Fairbanks is Mr. Randy Kiniecki of US HealthVest, Dr. Stacey Shaw, program director for EMMC, and, Mr. Greg Walker, senior military liaison for EMMC.


Petry concluded his visit by leaving a memorial bouquet of red, white and blue flowers at the Fairbanks Veterans Memorial Park. Retired Army Ranger and resident Andy Poncho assisted Petry.


Petry is also invited to speak at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington State and on O’ahu in Hawaii on behalf of Extra Mile Military Care.

Medal of Honor Recipient Leroy Petry Discusses Mental Health Awareness with Soldiers


MSG Petry and Army MEDEVAC Team

Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Petry visited the city of Fairbanks, Alaska in late July 2018. Petry, who is the official ambassador and quality control advocate for the Extra Mile Military Care program at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital (Marysville, WA), toured both Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. While visiting, Petry advocated mental health services that are available to both active military personnel and retired veterans.


While on a mission in rural Afghanistan in May 2008, Petry saved the lives of two fellow Army Rangers when he grabbed a grenade thrown near them. While attempting to throw the grenade away, it detonated in his right hand.


While he may have lost his hand, Petry continued to fight. After recovering from his wounds, Petry re-enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan once more. He served until he received the Medal of Honor on July 12th, 2011.


Now retired, Petry hopes to help veterans who are experiencing depression or are seeking PTSD treatment.


“The world is filled with opportunity.” Petry says, “When you wake up, and you breathe that air into your lungs, and you open your eyes, you have the opportunity to change the world.”


Petry also spoke about mental health awareness and how important it is to take care of our veterans. This means taking care of the veteran’s physical wounds and emotional wounds too.


An average of 33 American active duty service members or veterans commit suicide daily. Statistics like this showcase just how essential mental health services are.


Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short, may feel as though there is no help available to them without a stigma attached. Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is hoping to change this, especially with programs like Extra Mile Military Care.


“For a lot of people they have no hope, (they think) no one is going to help them out,” he said. “Plus the stigma of, ‘Oh, if I go get mental health I’ll never be able to own a gun, or I’ll never be able to continue my job, they’ll kick me out, or I’ll never get promoted.’


“A lot of what I talk to them about is that to be a well-rounded soldier you’ve got to be mentally, physically and spiritually green. When you started going into the yellow or the red you’re not going to be at your peak performance.”


Be sure to watch the video linked below for additional information!