SABATTUS – The future – not only the next few months, but the rest of his life.

It’s a question for Army Spc. David Saucier.

He’s home now, with his new wife Trina and their month-old son Kaiden. In mid-December, he’ll go back to Washington, D.C., back to waiting for what’s going to happen next.

“I’d like to go back to school, get a degree in something, but I don’t know what,” Saucier said. “I’d like to work. I’d like to buy a house, but I don’t know how.”

He’s taken classes in accounting, but he’s lost interest in that. “I guess I’ll have to see what comes along next.”

The future looked clearer last June, before a roadside bomb near Iraq’s border with Kuwait melted the 23-year-old soldier’s insides. With 20 days left before he was to ship home, he was looking forward to a September wedding and Kaiden’s October birth.

Now his future hinges on two hearings early next year. The first will judge his injuries and determine just how disabled he is. The second will set the level of compensation he’ll get for the rest of his life.

“My guess is, I’m beyond 100-percent disabled,” he said. “So, I don’t know what I’ll be able to do.”

Though his injuries are massive, he looks whole – quite different from Iraq war veterans returning home with missing limbs. Saucier’s injuries are hidden deep within his belly, covered by clothes and bandages.

“People who lose a limb, it’s all pretty straightforward,” he said. “They come in, get treated and they’re not in all that long.”

However, he has been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., long enough to go through nine roommates.

Healing one-of-a-kind injury

It was June 2 and Saucier was the gunner riding at the front of a convoy of trucks. A carefully placed roadside bomb ended the trip. It was an explosive attached to large sheet of copper designed to fly up and melt through the truck’s metal and any armor a soldier might be wearing.

“These guys, they know exactly what they’re doing,” Saucier said. “They don’t just leave it there, ready to go off. They have it aimed just right and timed so that it’ll do the most damage. They’re experts.”

The sheet of copper melted into a baseball-sized projectile that became lodged in Saucier’s abdomen, ripping and burning through his belly along the way.

Doctors removed most of it a day later in a German hospital. Saucier carries the biggest part, a 2-pound chunk, in a clear plastic case. It’s packed away with his ribbons, medals and other memorabilia.

The rest of the bomb he carries as flecks of copper in his abdomen.

“I can never have an MRI because of it,” he said.

He should have died, but a medic was riding in the truck with him and was able to begin treatment right away. Four hospitals and 48 hours later, he awoke at Walter Reed.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind injury, just because it was so big and I still survived,” Saucier said.

He’s been released from Walter Reed’s main hospital and lives in an outpatient home nearby. He has regular physical therapy for his leg and a shoulder that was injured while he was being treated. His therapy has to continue while he’s home, requiring trips to Central Maine Medical Center twice a week.

“Healing, that’s what hurts,” he said. “The other is over right away, but the healing takes its time.”

‘Exciting stuff’ wards off depression

Saucier walks with a limp and the help of a brace and he will carry a colostomy bag for the rest of his life. Even so, his attitude is remarkably positive.

“Would I rather have not blown up?,” he said. “Of course. But I was.”

If there’s a good side, it’s family.

“I’ve got a lot of exciting stuff in my life to look forward to,” he said. “You need to be optimistic if you’re going to get the most out of it. You’re healing and there is no point in being depressed.”

Trina has been his constant companion – the first one he saw when he awoke, and the first person he asked for.

“I didn’t think I’d ever see her again,” he said. She rarely left his bedside, skipping her own high school graduation this past summer.

The two were married in July in a Walter Reed gathering room – Trina in a white dress and David in his hospital bed, wheeled in for the occasion.

Kaiden was born in October. Trina left just before Kaiden was born, and has been home in Sabattus since then.

“I’m so glad he’s here, so glad he came along when he did,” Saucier said of his son. “I might never get a chance to be a father if things didn’t happen the way they did.”

The family shares a home with Trina’s parents, Joan and Maurice Turgeon. Trina and Kaiden will stay with them until he returns.

Saucier doesn’t know when that will be.

“I want to come back, but I don’t know how,” he said. “I’m going to need a house for my wife and son. I have some money saved, but that won’t last. I’ll get a pension, but not nearly enough to pay for a house and a family.”

Saucier enlisted when he was 17, with a signed waiver from his parents. He spent the summer between his junior and senior years at boot camp. He finished high school and served in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina before shipping off to Iraq in 2006.

Looking back, he wouldn’t do anything different. And looking forward 17 years, when Kaiden is old enough to enlist, Saucier said it would be his boy’s choice.

“But not until he turns 18. I won’t sign any waivers. When he’s 18, he can decide.”

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