Cicero (WSYR-TV) -- Army Private and Cicero-North Syracuse graduate Matthew Leyva lost both his legs and his left hand after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan last year. Wednesday night, the wounded warrior returned to Central New York.
After spending months in Texas recovering, 22-year-old Leyva flew home for the first time to visit family and friends in Cicero.
“I take it as a blessing; got an awesome welcome…great family…great support. Pretty sweet today,” Leyva said.
Leyva nearly died in Afghanistan. His mother, Rene Sochia says, “It’s been a roller coaster. You know from first hearing that he was injured to him almost passing away, to him getting better, to getting worse, eventually he just started going and going and going and now he’s doing great.”
Since he first woke up out of a month-long coma, Leyva’s sister says he’s had a smile on his face.
“His way of dealing with things is humor. Everything’s a joke,” Leyva’s sister, Ashley Sochia said.
It’s clear Leyva certainly has a way with people and that’s a good thing. He hopes to work at the VA Hospital he was treated at in Texas, helping other wounded warriors just like him.
“People get injured. They sometimes get themselves down for what happened to them. It’s not their fault. Just got to live with it and drive on. That’s what I’m doing,” Leyva said.
“There’s a lot of guys that just want out and they don’t want anything to do with it anymore, so I think that’s awesome that he still has ambition to be in the Army and still serve his country, but in a different way,” said Leyva’s wife, Raelynn.
Leyva will make another visit home in two weeks to renew vows with his wife and on August 9, celebrate a second birthday of sorts – his “alive day” – the day he was injured.
Leyva was awarded the Purple Heart back in February. As for his plans this week, he told us he can’t wait to relax at home, go to the beach and bet a bite to eat at OIP.