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April 23rd, 2013
06:17 PM ET

Amputee veterans encourage Boston victims

Veterans who lost their limbs fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are back home offering hope to victims of the Boston Marathon attack.

Celeste Corcoran and her 18-year-old daughter Sydney were at the Boston Marathon to cheer on Celeste's sister, who was running the race for the first time. They were waiting by the finish line when the bombs that would change their lives forever exploded.

Celeste lost both of her legs, her daughter was wounded by shrapnel.

"I can't do anything right now," said Celeste, with tears in her eyes.

Double amputee Marine veteran Gabe Ramirez responded to her concern with quiet reassurance.

"Now yes, but I'm telling you with all my heart that you are going to be more independent than you already were," Ramirez said.

Doctors echo his optimism.

"Nearly all of the patients that have lost legs are already walking the halls with physical therapists. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of safety, a lot of practice, and they have to learn new routines," said Dr. Jeffrey Kalish, director of endovascular surgery at Boston Medical Center. "But we're all gearing up for a mass exodus to rehab. Hopefully during this upcoming week."

Almost 1,600 U.S. troops have lost one or more of their limbs since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Limb-loss injuries that would have once been fatal, are now not only survivable, but some wounded service members are even returning back to the combat zone.

Military medicine has fueled this advancement in prosthetics, but it is civilians in Boston who will benefit this time.

"This is basically the start. It's just a new beginning for the both of you," Ramirez told Celeste and Sydney.

Celeste kept her spirits up, and even talked about running the Boston Marathon next year.

"I always joked around like I'm not super athletic, I like to work out and stuff, but running is not my thing because I get horrible shin splints. So I was like, 'Hey, I don't have shins anymore. I can do this,'" said Celeste, with a laugh.

Visit the website that has been set up to help fund Celeste and Sydney's long road to recovery.

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