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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s an honor bestowed on very few. US Army Sgt. Jason Thigpen received the Purple Heart during a special ceremony Wednesday for his service in Iraq.

“I wouldn’t change anything bad, good or indifferent. It’s because of my experiences, all-inclusive, that are why I’m at where I’m at today,” Sgt. Thigpen said.

While returning from a mission near Baghdad, Thigpen and his men were hit by an IED. Thigpen suffered brain trauma and injuries to his shoulders and back.

“I think the closest I can describe it so anyone can understand is just imagine being in a really bad car crash, but we didn’t lose any lives,” he said.

Now his fight is on the homefront. Thigpen is a senior at UNCW, and he has started up a local non-profit organization with a goal of helping his fellow student vets receive the education he says they deserve.

“There’s issues with changes in federal law, and currently the state hasn’t changed statutes in providing educational benefits to our veterans,” Thigpen said.

The father of two says it was the thought of his two girls that has kept him so strong.

“They’re why I made it home,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say with that. They’re why I made it home.”

For more information on Sergeant Thigpen’s non-profit organization for student vets, you can visit www.studentveteransadvocacygroup.org.

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