For years, Noah Galloway was at war with his body.
After losing two limbs during a 2005 explosion in Iraq, “what I saw in the mirror depressed me,” the Army vet and Dancing With the Stars alum exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly. “Now I don’t care I am missing an arm and a leg. I’m sexy!”
In his memoir, Living With No Excuses (out August 23), the dad of three opens up about learning to soldier on — and pushing himself outside his comfort zone. He tells Us more.
Us Weekly: It’s been more than 10 years since the injury. Why write a book now?
Noah Galloway: Well, I talk a lot about my depression. I don’t expect everybody to have lost two limbs and end up on Dancing With the Stars. I wanted something that connected with people, and I hope the book will do that.
Us: Going back, what made you want to enlist in the Army?
NG: I had flirted with the idea of joining the military, but was never convinced I would fit in. But then September 11th happened. I thought, “We are going to war and I need to be part of it.” Then I began to see it as a career. That was one of the things I struggled with when I got injured. It’s not just that I lost an arm and a leg. I had lost a career that made me happy.
Us: What did you love most about serving?
NG: The action and adventure of being an infantry solider on deployment and in combat was incredibly, as crazy as that sounds. It also felt great working with the local**S, getting to know them and doing anything I could to help.
Us: Looking back, do you think you could have prevented the accident?
NG: No. I wasn’t supposed to be in that Humvee that night. But I insisted I be there. I don’t regret anything, because the way I look at it is somebody was going to get hit that night. The reverse would have been, “Why them? Why not me?”
Us: What emotions ran through you when you learned about your injuries?
NG: There was one minute were I was like, “I’m fine. It’s not a big deal.” Then, there were other moments where I was just sobbing like a baby. It was one emotion after another. I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist. The longest part of my depression was denial.
Us: Your dad also has one arm. Did watching him successfully maneuver around help with your doubts?
NG: Yes, without a doubt. I was able to do things with one hand much quicker. My kids can also do things with one hand that most people can’t because their dad and grandfather have one each. You do things without realizing because you see it everyday.
Us: What was your initial reaction when you saw your prosthetics?
NG: It was exciting to see them. You have this idea that you are going to wear a prosthetic and it is going to be as close as possible to the limbs you had, but more robotic and almost cool. Then you realize no, it is nothing like having an actual limb. Nothing compares.
Us: But the first time you tried on the leg, you walked!
NG: [Laughs] Arrogance motivated me. The physical therapist was like, “No, we are just trying to get you to stand,” and I’m like, “No, I am walking.” I was determined to be as successful as I could.
Us: A large part of the book is about your struggle with depression. Why did you feel like you couldn’t open up to people about the paranoia you were dealing with?
NG: Because I felt like I was portraying myself to be this superhero. I felt that I had portrayed myself to be unfazed by what happened, so I closed myself off. It is stupid for anybody to think they are unfazed by injuries or depression or anything like that.
Us: How did you kids help you get through this difficult period?
NG: If you’re not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of someone else. I wanted to be a better father and show them what a good man is. Still, it’s not like I had this moment where I was in this hole of depression and then just climbed out and was in the sunlight. It’s a slow, gradual climb.
Us: What was the appeal of doing DWTS?
NG: I was telling people to step out of their comfort zone. For me, what’s more uncomfortable than dancing in front of 15 million people, missing an arm and a leg and unable to dance? But I honestly did not think I would last long. I thought I would do the two or three weeks and then go home and say, I tried. I had no clue that I would end up doing the whole 10 weeks.
Us: Would you do reality TV again?
NG: I’m not against it. Just not The Bachelor!