A young military man whose body was literally shattered in Iraq has found help and hope from an unlikely source: World Extreme Cagefighting.
“A grill caught a flame of the drip, gasoline drip and it just exploded,” Army specialist Dominique Haynes said. “A freak accident just happened.”
Haynes remembers the day like it was yesterday. It was April last year when an explosion burned more than 25% of his body.
“My arms, my chest and the part of my back,” Haynes said. “It burned of course the side of my face and above my chin.” It all happened during Haynes first tour of duty in Iraq.
“I had to endure a lot of pain, a lot of stretching, a lot of depression, anxiety and insomnia,” Haynes said. “I had to deal with a lot, but I did have my support system and the medical team to help.”
The 23-year-old's road to recovery began at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
While his support system has always been the military, another group playing a big role in this young soldier's life is the World Extreme Cagefighting organization. (WEC)
“When he came up there he talked to me and talked to my mom and we went down there and he took me by the cage,” Haynes said. “It was like something I had never experienced before.”
Haynes is talking about WEC founder Reed Harris. The two met more than a year ago after Harris invited some soldiers to see a show.
“He's come a long way and it's because of his work,” Harris said. “He's been through a lot of therapies, but we welcome him, he's our friend.”
A tight bond has formed between the two men. Harris has invited Haynes to other WEC fights, including a recent showdown at Jobing.com arena
“So what I do before each show is I come and I check in here to make sure a leg couldn't get caught in here,” Harris said. “Go ahead and put your foot in there and feel that. It would hurt wouldn't it?”
“The fighters have embraced him,” Harris said. “He's just a great kid and like I said, he gave our country everything he could possibly give.”
One of those fighters is Glendale resident Ben Henderson. “He became a huge Ben Henderson fan,” Harris said. “So he's like Ben’s number one fan.”
While life is definitely getting better for Haynes, the help he's received from his military family and now the WEC will always hold a special place in his heart.
“It's kind of put me back to where I was before I got injured, that was my main goal,” Haynes said. “I just wanted to get back to where I was before my injury, which I'm already there. I actually think I've surpassed it.
Haynes is retiring from the military this week. He plans to go back home to Georgia and return to school.