WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A Washington County Sheriff’s sergeant has returned to full-time duty after more than a year of recovery from gunshot wounds that left him relearning how to walk, eat and speak.
Sgt. Jeremy Braun’s path back into the uniform has been long and tough, and he doesn’t take it for granted.
“My balance and grip strength and sensations and ability to control myself – I lost a lot of balance, a lot of that had to be restored and re-vetted and re-verified,” Braun said Tuesday, at a press conference during his second day of returning to full-time work.
“I’ve had to work hard on my wind and increasing my ability to run, working hard toward losing weight, getting myself more mentally and physically fit, attending counseling,” Braun added.
It’s an inspirational story coming from a man who nearly died in the line of duty a year and a half ago, when he and other Washington County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call about stolen guns in the Hagg Lake area.
Court records show Braun and another deputy were shot by the suspect with a twenty-gauge shotgun during a massive manhunt in the woods to find Dante James Halling, who was arrested shortly after and charged with attempted murder.
From there, Braun spent weeks in the hospital. Those were some of his darkest days.
“I’m very open about the fact that while I was still in the hospital, I looked at the nurse and my wife and said unplug me, I’m done, it had reached that level of horror where you’re just done,” Braun said.
But he pushed through the physical and mental pain with tiny steps forward and all sorts of rehab and therapies. His goal was to eventually get back to working full duty.
“I realized years ago, in this career, that I choose my state of mind, and I had to return to that,” Braun said. “ And I choose to be who I am and live the life I choose regardless of the situation I’m in.”
Now that the day has come, Braun said he is not scared to return to the work itself and the risks that come along.
“You have to live life comfortable that death is around the next corner or might be around the next corner,” Braun said.
Instead, Braun worries about not measuring up to his 17 years of experience in policing.
“My fear is that I’ll bring discredit to the uniform, that I’ll bring discredit to the badge, I’ll bring discredit to my family,” Braun explained.
After more than a year of staying at home with his wife and three kids, Braun said he knows it will be an adjustment for everyone with his return to work.
“I am married to the best woman in the world so I’m very proud of my wife,” Braun said.
The long road of recovery has been easier with his family by his side and the overwhelming support of the community.
“We look for the strength where we can get it, we look for the support where we can get it, we reject the people who say we can’t and we go, hey this is the decision I’m making, this is the life I chose to live.”
Halling’s trial is set for April.