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Monticello hometown hero overcomes addiction

Sgt. Kendra Garza risked her life for her country, losing her leg eight years ago. And after she came back to the United States, that's when her battle with addiction started/Claudia Coco (WGXA)

MONTICELLO, Ga. -- Sgt. Kendra Garza was stationed overseas in Germany with the 173rd Airborne Brigade when she was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

She risked her life for her country, losing her leg eight years ago. And after she came back to the United States, that's when her battle with addiction started.

"I was hit by a roadside bomb over there," Garza said.

Garza said she initially thought one of her battle buddies had gotten hit.

"We always carried a tourniquet in our left pants pocket," she said. "So when I hit the ground, I went to reach for my tourniquet and I realized my leg wasn't there."

Even though Garza lost her leg in 2010, her addiction didn't start until 2015 following her second deployment. Pain pills became a regular part of her life.

"I was taking tons of these pain pills -- oxycodone, morphine," she said. "I became severely addicted to them."

Garza said she felt like her addiction happened overnight. Eventually, Veterans Affairs stopped writing her prescriptions.

"That led to heroine -- and that was a whole other war just beginning," she said.

Garza said she became well-acquainted with Jasper County's finest, as those deputies showed her the support she needed to get sober.

"He's one of the ones that told me, 'You're better than this,'" she said. "'You know, I see something in you.'"

A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, Garza was looking for an outlet other than drugs.

"So when I got out of jail, I heard about this kart racing -- Monticello Kart Racing," Garza said. "So I said, 'You know what, this might be a good outsource for me.'"

Garza hasn't gotten to race yet.

Eddie Thomas with the Monticello Kart Racing is building her a kart that she can use with her hands -- and Garza can't wait.

"It's going to be that adrenaline that I'm seeking," she said.

Garza is now just over 11 months sober. She said that's thanks to the support from the community.

"I mean, I can't even put it in words," Garza said. "My sobriety is because of this community.

"If I had to do this all over again -- go to war, lose my leg, suffer through addiction -- to insure Americans are safe from terrorists, I would do it all over again," she said.

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