Charlie LeDuff profiles Brendan (Doogie) Milewski, the Detroit firefighter paralyzed in 2010 when a wall of a building collpased on him and several other firefighters as they fought an arson blaze on Detroit's East Side. He and other former firefighters are being hit hard by Detroit's filing for bankruptcy.
"August 13, 2010 - Friday the 13th - I was only at work for a couple minutes, never even stepped foot in the firehouse, taking my gear out of the car. We've got to run down to Jefferson and Drexel. We were working on the scene for ten, fifteen minutes and, without warning, a building collapsed on us.
"I was hit with a chunk of limestone the size of a parking lot, and that basically exploded my seventh thoracic vertebra. Now I'm left to live the rest of my life as a T6 Paraplegic.
"I always understood that death was a legitimate possibility; I've seen enough of my friends die. I can't say Walter Harris' name enough. I never considered being injured to the point where I wasn't going to be who I was before, and having to live with the consequences. One would only assume that you make these kind of sacrifices at work, performing your job, that you'd be taken care of.
"I got a letter saying that my healthcare, through the city of Detroit, was going to be terminated as of January 1, 2014, and that, if I don't have another plan purchased by December 15th of this year, that I'll have a gap in coverage. And they're offering a $200 a month stipend to supplement the cost of purchasing my own health insurance.
"I definitely feel discarded. It's disheartening that guys like me put ourselves on the line everyday. These Detroit firemen, they put their lives, their bodies, on the line every day.