Veteran Taylor Urruela ’15 Featured in PBS Special Tuesday

Published: May 27, 2014
Taylor Urruela ’15 is featured in WEDU’s three-episode series, “Coming Back with Wes Moore.” Photo courtesy of Stacy Pearsall
Taylor Urruela ’15 is featured in WEDU’s three-episode series, “Coming Back with Wes Moore.” Photo courtesy of Stacy Pearsall
While UT has had some reality stars in its alumni cadre, the most recent brings reality — that of war, loss and resilience — home.

Taylor Urruela ’15 is featured in WEDU’s three-episode series, “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” which follows several veterans as they return from war. Urruela’s episode, “Moving Forward,” airs tonight at 8.

Urruela served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army from 2004–2011, and at the end of his tour in Baghdad, his vehicle was hit by two roadside bombs. He lost his leg below the knee and the life of his commander. He medically retired from the Army in 2011 and is a student at The University of Tampa, where he tried out for the baseball team.

In the WEDU episode, Urruela is asked if he thinks about how far he has come so quickly, from just barely surviving to trying out for one of the best baseball teams in America.

“I can’t express what it means to me to play ball. It makes me feel normal again, and so it’s worth everything, it really is,” Urruela says in the piece, however, “I have such high expectations of myself that I can’t just look at it like that. Still, I’m extremely happy every day of my life I’m even able to run.”

While Urruela didn’t make the UT team, he has gone on to make an even larger league. Urruela and another wounded veteran founded VetSports, a nonprofit that helps veterans socialize through playing sports. The mission is to help wounded veterans and remind the public of the ongoing battle these veterans face. It is because of this very thing that Urruela wanted to be a part of the WEDU series.

“They’re not just making a show, they’re starting the conversation,” Urruela told WEDU’s Cathy Unruh in an April “Up Close with Cathy Unruh.”

Urruela is majoring in writing with the hopes of becoming a screenwriter and novelist and perhaps a professor. He told Unruh that at some point he’d like to write his own memoir.

“Writing is my passion,” Urruela said. “It also helps me to rehabilitate, to get that out.”

For more on Urruela, watch his interview on “Up Close with Cathy Unruh,” read the Tampa Bay Times article, “Fallen Comrade's Family Helps Wounded Iraq War Veteran Reconnect,” and watch the WEDU special May 27 at 8 p.m.