Matias Ferreira recently joined more than 40 other military veterans in graduation and acceptance into the ranks of the Suffolk County Police Department in Long Island, New York. In fact, he was voted as the class president. Ferreira stood upright and proud as he accepted this responsibility — on two prosthetic legs.

Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini welcomed new graduates: "On behalf of the entire Suffolk County Police Department, we are honored to have these young men and women joining our ranks tomorrow and dedicating their careers to serving the residents of Suffolk County."

Ferreira is one of the few active-duty police officers who is a double leg amputee. He lost both his legs below the knee after stepping on an improvised explosive device while serving with the Marines deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.

As a lance corporal, he helped lead his fellow Marines in the liberation of an Afghanistan town that had been overrun by the Taliban. The troops had cleared a compound, and Ferreira jumped from a rooftop to retrieve supplies and landed on a 30-pound bomb concealed in the ground. The blast shattered both legs.

It was a long journey to get to the point of being able to successfully complete the training necessary to become a law enforcement officer. Ferreira, now a 28-year-old father standing tall and proud on his titanium legs, has achieved the goal that eludes many physically intact men and women — he is a protector of his community serving as a law officer.

Currently, 2 million people in the U.S. have lost a limb. The primary causes are vascular disease at 54 percent, with trauma contributing to 45 percent of the losses and cancer less than 2 percent. Every year there are an additional 185,000 amputations.

Loss of a limb during combat is common and is considered to be one of the most visible and enduring reminders of the cost of war. During the Civil War, approximately 21,000 amputations were performed, and during World War I, 2,635 soldiers had major amputations.

As lessons learned from World War I were applied during the next conflict, more soldiers survived from incredible trauma to continue life as an amputee. The U.S. Army established seven amputation centers specializing in up to date surgical interventions, medical care, prosthetic devise and rehabilitation to care for the World War II soldiers. That conflict resulted in 15,000 amputees among the veteran population. (War)

We should all be proud of those like Ferreira who take on the responsibility of protecting our communities and families. Ferreira's grit, integrity and stamina is inspiring in the face of adversity.

"I'm just your ordinary guy who was given a second chance," Ferreira said.