The past year has been a trying one in the Worth household.
Jeremy Worth’s confidence was shaken after he suffered a spinal injury while serving in the military a year ago. His daughter Auna, 12, still saw her father as a hero.
“I am the daughter of a wounded warrior,” Auna wrote in an essay that earned her father the title of Columbia County’s Father of the Year.
“My dad is the best dad in the world,” Auna said. “It really means a lot. “He’s a really good dad and he deserves it.”
Worth and his wife, Candice, have five children – Auna, Daniel, 14, Chayah, 9, Brianna, 7, and Elyssa, 6.
“It’s a handful sometimes, but I can’t complain,” Worth said of his large family. “They are such good kids. I couldn’t ask for better kids. I feel so blessed.”
Worth and his wife served in the Army until 2009, when they joined the Army Reserves together.
In the Army, Worth was a field medic and registered nurse. Since joining the Reserves, Worth has worked as an ICU/critical care nurse and an officer with police departments in Hephzibah and Waynesboro, Ga.
Worth was supervisor of a Department of Homeland Security anti-terrorism team, a quick-response nuclear, biological and chemical response team. He was reactivated last spring and was injured while training the first week of June, 2012. While loading a portable field hospital into a container, Worth’s spine was crushed by a palletized crate.
Crushed and fractured vertebra and herniated discs in his lower back left Worth paralyzed and in severe pain.
“I think his injury actually pulled us closer together,” Worth’s wife said, “because we had to rely on each one of us to help my husband out when he got injured.”
Worth said the past year has been an emotional roller coaster for him dealing with his injury, spinal surgery and nagging thoughts that he isn’t living up to his own expectations as a father.
“I feel like sometimes I’m not able to do all the things I want to do for them,” Worth said. “It makes you feel bad because you’re supposed to be the dad and the husband. You’re supposed to be taking care of your family. You just feel like you don’t have purpose any more, or any value.”
Worth is active in his children’s lives, always making sure they know how loved they are. It is obvious the children love their father as they crowd around him for a family picture.
They think Worth is a hero and that the things he can’t do are trivial.
“He likes to spend time with us and he takes us places and sometimes we get to play board games with him and snuggle with him,” Brianna said.
Chayah said his father’s unselfishness and desire to serve others is a big reason he deserves to be Father of the Year.
“He was injured and he saved a lot of lives and worked hard,” Chayah said. “He deserves this.”
Despite pain and numbness, Worth is able to walk short distances and he hopes a summer surgery will give him more mobility.
It’s his family that has gotten Worth through the past year and still inspires him to continue rehabilitation. Though he’s being medically retired from the military, Worth said he hopes to return to nursing and law enforcement.
Worth said he makes sure to hug and kiss his children and that they understand that “they mean the world to me and how much they are my life and I feel so blessed and honored to be their dad and that the biggest reward I have in life is having them as my kids.”
Worth, like most parents, always wants the best for his children. He often reminds them of the family philosophy: Family is forever.
“That’s all you have in the end is family,” Worth said.
“Your life is really measured by the people who love you. I think that’s really a measure of who you are.”