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Article updated: 12/31/2012 6:32 AM

Triple amputee veteran forms a healing bond with therapist

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Captain Erik S. Johnson, left, an Army occupational therapist, works with wounded warriors like Army Sargeant Monte Bernardo, helping them achieve some of the things they used to do before receiving their severe injuries.

THE WASHINGTON POST/MARVIN JOSEPH

Sergeant Monte Bernardo, left, and his girlfriend Amanda Simmons look to see how far a golf ball traveled across a field at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

THE WASHINGTON POST/MARVIN JOSEPH

In a Target store, Captain Erik S. Johnson, center, and Sergeant Monte Bernardo and Bernardo's sister, Stella Shafer, joke about a nutcracker doll dressed in military fatigues who happens to be missing one arm.

THE WASHINGTON POST/MARVIN JOSEPH

Sergeant Monte Bernardo exercises his upper body at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

THE WASHINGTON POST/MARVIN JOSEPH

Monte Bernardo shops for a few items at a local Target in December. Monte lost both of his legs and one of his arms in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in July.

THE WASHINGTON POST/MARVIN JOSEPH

Army occupational therapist Captain Erik S. Johnson, left, and Sergeant Monte Bernardo, who was critically injured by an IED in Afghanistan, wrestle each other. The two men have become good friends during the long months of rehabilitation.

About this Article

Army Sgt. Monte Bernardo and Capt. Erik Johnson are very different men. Amid thousands of encounters between soldier and caregiver in recent years, these two men, marked by war and service, have formed a unique friendship and bonded as Bernardo struggles to heal and make a new life following devasting injuries suffered in Afghanistan.
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    • Captain Erik S. Johnson, left, an Army occupational therapist, works with wounded warriors like Army Sargeant Monte Bernardo, helping them achieve some of the things they used to do before receiving their severe injuries.
    •  Sergeant Monte Bernardo, left, and his girlfriend Amanda Simmons look to see how far a golf ball traveled across a field at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
    •  In a Target store, Captain Erik S. Johnson, center, and Sergeant Monte Bernardo and Bernardo’s sister, Stella Shafer, joke about a nutcracker doll dressed in military fatigues who happens to be missing one arm.
    •  Sergeant Monte Bernardo exercises his upper body at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
    •  Monte Bernardo shops for a few items at a local Target in December. Monte lost both of his legs and one of his arms in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in July.
    • Army occupational therapist Captain Erik S. Johnson, left, and Sergeant Monte Bernardo, who was critically injured by an IED in Afghanistan, wrestle each other. The two men have become good friends during the long months of rehabilitation.
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