Veteran Overcomes Devastating Injuries to Become Modeling Sensation

This retired Marine has an army of fans who love his looks and his life story.

Jackie and Alex Minsky. (Photo: Mike Dowling)

Nov 18, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Mike Dowling is author of Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between A Marine and His Military Working Dog, and cofounder of the non profit Veterans in Film & Television. He is a contributor to Take Part Live’s “Return The Service" campaign honoring the military veteran community.

With hundreds of thousands of fans, colorfully tattooed veteran Alex Minsky burst onto the national modeling scene on certain merits: his handsome looks and enviably fit body. But it wasn’t just appearances that captivated his fans.

In June 2009, when Minsky was deployed with the Marines in Afghanistan, the humvee he was driving ran over an IED. The blast wounded him traumatically, resulting in his right leg being amputated below the knee and severe brain injury that put him in a coma for 47 days, fighting for his life. He still can’t remember anything at all from a five-month block of 2009.

Minsky would go on to make a miraculous recovery. “The doctors said my brain injury was so severe that if I ever woke up, I would not be the same. Bit by bit, day by day, I started making moves back and making my way back to being me again,” he said.

About a year after the explosion that maimed him, Minsky medically retired from the Marines. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were already troubling him before the untimely death of his younger brother, which triggered heavy drinking.

His mom, Jackie Minsky, recalls watching his fun-loving nature disappear.

“That was hard. I had to let him figure it out. This was not weeks but months and months of being scared every second of every day,” she said.

After a downward spiral that landed him on the wrong side of the law and a forced stint in rehab, Minsky finally decided to get healthy, both physically and mentally, getting counseling every day while also going to the gym.

Intrigued by his wounds, tattoos, and story, a photographer at the gym asked if he could photograph him. He agreed, and the photos would end up going viral on Facebook. Soon he was fielding many requests from photographers, and because he had nothing else to do, he kept saying yes.

The attention didn’t surprise his mom one bit. “Alex has always had something about him that inspired people to follow him, whether it was for good or bad,” she said.

Now, as an in-demand model with a huge social media following, Minsky uses his influence to continue spreading a positive message, hoping people will learn from his story.

When asked what it was that helped him turn his life around, he said it’s simple, really: “I had to realize that I have a choice today. That I can decide—if I do not like the way something is going, there are actions I can take to change it. If I have a part in everything, what am I doing today to fix my situation. It’s on me, man. I have a choice.”

But he also credits the people around him. “I could have never made anything like the miracle that has been my life up to today. To come from such a dark, despairing, lonely place to this beautiful and happy life I have today—I could have never done that alone.”