Chief Operating Officer, Project Josiah
Program Manager, Hidden Wounds
The beginning is never as important as the end, or in Steven Diaz’s case where you end up. His story begins in Iraq in 2005. Assigned to convoy security, Diaz escorted vehicles to and from Al Asad Airbase while searching and clearing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from his assigned area. He bravely and successfully located many IEDs for three months, until one found him and asked for his life.
But this is not the end.
Born in Mexico, his parents immigrated to the United States to start a church for the local Hispanic population of Columbia, South Carolina. He grew up in a Christian home and attended public schools all the way and through his high school graduation. Being raised with American traditions, values, and customs, Diaz fell in love with the American way of life. He was so grateful for the freedoms given to him and his family he wanted to give back. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 2005 and was later stationed in Okinawa, Japan. While in Japan he then volunteered with a military police unit out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to go to Iraq where he was severely injured by an IED.
Directly after his injuries were inflicted upon him, Diaz was sent to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to recover. With restrained hands, partial vision, and substantial medical equipment, he woke up with the memories of his encounter replaced by confusion, a feeling of helplessness, and above all, fear. Shrapnel now litters his body and brain, leaving him blind in his left eye, nearly costing him his foot, and leaving him unable to walk or stand for long periods of time. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and a seizure disorder.
Overseas, Diaz saw every type of injury. At home, these injuries manifested themselves into a psychological torment; a psychological battle he saw not only fellow veterans fighting but the friends and family who were there to support him. He personally knew and watched three close friends fight the same symptoms of PTS he did. The symptoms without proper knowledge and treatment ultimately took the lives of his fellow comrades, one of which being Mills Palmer Bigham, the brother of the founder of Hidden Wounds, Anna Bigham. The fight with these post-war ailments drives him to support and help the veterans he fought beside.
Overcome with a sense of survivor’s guilt after his good friend Marine Corporal Joshua Scott Blankenship took his own life, Diaz stepped up his efforts with Hidden Wounds accepting the role of Director of Strategic Partnerships half a year past the conception of the organization.
With Hidden Wounds, he helps to create a network of psychological support so that service members and their families may find someone who can relate and understands the urgency of treatment, professional peer to peer support, and other holistic treatment methods.
Engaging his raw perspective with his drive for recovery, Diaz has assisted Hidden Wounds to help thousands of veterans totaling hundreds of thousands of treatment minutes and counting. He sympathizes with the negative emotions and defeated feelings our heroes often feel when returning home and takes his own experience with these battles to help ease and heal the hidden wounds of the people we love.
Diaz currently resides in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife Laura, son Thomas and two Beagles named Wade Hampton and Chester Nimitz.
In 2012, he was awarded the Jeep 6th Man Contest. He currently serves as a deacon for Centennial ARP Church, is a board member for several local organizations to include the National Society for Hispanics with Maters in Business Administration, Marine Corps League, Capital City Young Republicans, and the South Carolina Veterans Policy Academy.