South Carolina vet recognized by CCMF and Disabled American Veterans

Ricky Ard, of Columbia, South Carolina, joined the U.S. Army as a private first class after graduating high school in 1990. (Photo provided by Ricky Ard)

CCMF organizers partnered with the non-profit charity Disabled American Veterans to bring injured vets to watch this weekend's concerts for free.

One of them, is 45-year-old Ricky Ard from Columbia, South Carolina.

"One of the biggest things is simply learning to live your life, regardless of what life deals you," said Ard.

Ard has never backed down from the challenges he has faced in his life.

He joined the U.S. Army as a private first class after graduating high school in 1990.

"I was deployed to the Persian Gulf in Desert Storm and stepped on a land mine in February of 1991."

His life was forever changed.

"It was simply a change of plans. I didn't see it as an ending to anything. Just saw it as a change in plans," said Ard.

After leaving the military, Ard sought help from the 'Disabled American Veterans' organization, and ended up working for the non-profit for five years.

"They represent veterans free before the Department of Veterans Affairs. They help them navigate those systems. I benefited from that."

Now, thanks to the DAV, and CCMF, he is getting back stage access all weekend.

"I know that I have in hard times, I have turned to music, myself, to try and get lost in the music. There are some very good messages, particularly behind country music, you tend to see a lot of patriotism in their music," said Ard.

To recognize Ard for his service and sacrifice, the DAV and Carolina Country Music Fest will also present him with the 'Victories for Veterans' award.

"I know that there are so many that have given so much. And for them to recognize me, I find that as an honor," said Ard.

Ard, along with 9 nine other veterans from across the country, will be recognized at Friday night's concert.

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