Biography

In April 2004, Melissa Stockwell became the first U.S. woman to lose a limb in active combat when an IED exploded during her daily convoy in Baghdad, Iraq. She has since gone on to become a two-time Paralympian, culminating in a bronze medal in Paratriathlon at Rio 2016. And it all started with a choice. 

At first glance, Melissa Stockwell may appear to be the quintessential Mid-western All-American girl, but she is far more. She is an American war hero who has triumphed over personal tragedy to achieve greatness and World Champion status, and she has dedicated her life to chasing remarkable accomplishments while giving back to others, particularly those who face challenges similar to hers.

In 2002, Melissa graduated from the University of Colorado and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. In March 2004, she deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. Just three weeks later, a blast from a roadside bomb struck Melissa’s Humvee, causing the loss of her left leg above the knee. After enduring numerous infections and surgeries, Melissa was medically retired from the Army. She is the first female soldier ever to lose a limb in active combat and has been awarded both The Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Following her accident, sport became the road to recovery for Melissa. In April of 2008, she became the first Iraqi War Veteran to qualify for the Beijing Paralympics. She competed in three swimming events and was honored by her fellow Team USA athletes to be selected to carry the American flag in the closing ceremony. After Beijing, Melissa turned to the sport of Paratriathlon and is now a three-time World Champion. She was named USA Triathlon’s female Paratriathlete of the Year for two consecutive years and was twice nominated for an ESPY award.

On September 11, 2016, at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Melissa raced in honor of her fellow soldiers and their families who had sacrificed to serve and protect America. After a grueling race, the day ended on the podium as the newly crowned Paralympic Bronze Medalist.

  • Retired U.S. Army 1st. Lieutenant 
  • 1st female American soldier to lose a limb in active duty in Iraq
  • Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient
  • 2022 Marathon World Recorder Holder (Boston)
  • 2020 Team USA Paralympic Opening Ceremony Flag Bearer
  • 2016 Paralympic Bronze Medalist –Triathlon
  • 3-Time World Champion, 3-Time Paralympian, IRONMAN
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Testimonials

Melissa, I lead the US Sales team for LexisNexis Risk Solutions Business Services division and was in attendance during your presentation at our Sales Meeting last week. I had hoped to talk to you afterward but so many attendees flocked to meet you that thought I would just send you a note instead. Just wanted to say what a powerful presentation you provided to our group. I can say with all honesty that were probably the best keynote speaker/motivational speaker we've had in the 16 years that I have been attending sales meeting at LexisNexis. Your story is phenomenal but you deliver it in such a gentle and humble way that really makes it hit home. People at the meeting were talking about it for the remainder of the meeting and I feel you helped make this our best sales meeting in our 13 years history of LexisNexis Risk Solutions. I look forward to following your journey on social media and best of luck with your family and your future plans.
– Don Clewell, SVP-Sales, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Business Services Division
Nearly every ALA Convention attendee made it a point to share that your speech was the highlight of the entire week. All were inspired by your story and the courage and determination you have demonstrated as the life of Melissa 2.0 unfolds. Every Speaker for the remainder of the Convention referenced your Speech. Honestly, Melissa, folks simply couldn’t stop raving about you and P&G benefited by association. Personally, it was an absolute honor and pleasure to meet you. I had high expectations…..you exceeded mine as both a Speaker and an Individual. The quality (intellect, poise, humor) in which you conduct yourself is very impressive Melissa.
– Marc Knowles, Global Military Team, Procter & Gamble
We were so happy to have Melissa speak at our Sales and Marketing Offsite. There was not a dry eye in the audience and she left us all feeling inspired, motivated and incredibly proud to have her on our team.
– Peter McGuinness, CMO, Chobani
Melissa, you forced us to take stock of how we view our own lives with your TEDxVail Talk, "Choose Your Story." We laughed when you flipped your leg completely around to show off your sweet new dance move. You stand on one leg with more courage and grace than many of us do on two. You moved hundreds to tears in the audience. Thanks, Melissa, for your powerful idea! You entice us all to choose life stories worth repeating.
– Kat Haber TEDx Vail
Melissa’s story inspires and drives home an important message fitting for any audience: success is driven by focusing on what you do have as opposed to what you don’t. What Melissa has already accomplished in her life is remarkable and it is clear her best is yet to come.
– The Chicago Bears

Booksby Melissa Stockwell

The Power of Choice: My Journey from Wounded Warrior to World Champion

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