Sgt. Nick Mendes, a veteran who was paralyzed from the neck down by an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, found love in an unexpected place — a Veterans Affairs hospital.
Mendes had been at the VA hospital in Long Beach, California for five months when he met Wendy Eichler, a medical caregiver who specialized in paralyzed patients.
The pair hit it off, and Eichler began visiting Mendes during her off hours and continued to see him when he was released from the hospital. Their friendship turned into a romantic relationship and they soon fell in love.
The two are the subjects of a new documentary by filmmaker Julie Cohen called “American Veteran.”
“I thought she was hot,” Mendes says of his wife in a short trailer for the upcoming documentary. “But at the same time I just got blown up, so I was trying to focus on me.”
The couple married on Sept 28, 2014, about three and a half years after Mendes’ injury.
According to Cohen, there is a secret to the couple’s happiness.
“Any married person — and I’ve been happily married for 17 years myself — will tell you that a mutual sense of humor is important,” she told The Huffington Post. “That’s particularly true of Nick and Wendy and fortunately they’re both very funny people who are quick to laugh at pretty much anything.”
Plus, they’re open minded when it comes to sex.
“A lot of assumptions I had in my head about what it’s like to be paralyzed from the neck down were wrong,” Cohen told HuffPost. “Starting with the assumption that sex is out of the question. As Wendy put it: ‘When it comes to sex, you find a way and you make it work.’”
“American Veteran” will be screened five times in New York in early March as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which promotes awareness and appreciation for the disability community through film, and will then travel to a number of other cities through the ReelAbilities tour.
Check the festival’s website for more info.