Major (Retired) Scotty Smiley
Wounded Veteran • Author • Speaker • Investment Banker • Eternal Adventure Seeker
Major (Retired) Scotty Smiley became the first blind active-duty officer in military history following a face-to-face confrontation with a suicide car bomber in Iraq in 2005. After his injury, Scotty's faith led him to forgive his attacker and inspired him to rebuild his life while continuing to serve his country in the U.S. Army.
A West Point graduate, he returned there to teach after he earned an MBA from Duke University. He was named the Army Times "Soldier of the Year" and won an ESPY award for "Best Outdoor Athlete." He is the recipient of a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the Army's prestigious MacArthur Leadership Award. Following a position in the Gonzaga University ROTC Department, Scotty retired from the military in 2015.
Scotty wrote his book Hope Unseen about his journey through overcoming adversity and now travels the country sharing his message of perseverance, courage, and hope. Ever the adventurer, after the loss of his eyesight he has learned to surf, gone skydiving, climbed Mt. Denali, and became an Ironman. Scotty currently works as an investment banker at Drexel Hamilton and is a regular guest on news networks such as NBC, CBS, and Fox. He is married to his high school sweetheart Tiffany. The couple lives in their hometown of Pasco, Washington with sons Grady, Graham, and Baylor.
The definition of hope is “to expect with confidence,” but what do you do when you’ve lost confidence in everything? When you’ve watched your dreams go up in smoke? When you feel isolated from those you love and you start to question the God you’ve built your life around?
How do you find confidence when all the things you had confidence in lay shattered all around you?
As I laid in my hospital bed in Washington DC after I’d been severely wounded by a suicide bomber while serving in Iraq, I was drowning in my despair. Half my body was paralyzed, my eyesight was gone and the doctors gave me nothing but vague assurances that I would even get out of the situation alive, let alone that I would live a half normal life again. All those plans about returning home to my beautiful wife, starting a family and building a career in the military seemed completely dead, and I began to wonder if death would’ve been a better ending to my story.
It was not one big moment or epiphany where God brought me back, it was actually a million tiny ones; the first time I was able to get dressed on my own, when I got the first whiff of Tiffany’s perfume again or the day I realized that I would be able to return to Active Duty, despite my injury. Slowly God showed me that His current plan was far better than the plan I’d had for myself. He gave me strength and taught me to expect with confidence that he was working and that He was good, He gave me something more valuable than anything I’d dreamt up before, he gave me strength to persevere through the despair, He gave me hope.
Through my book and speaking all over the country, I hope to encourage others to find strength and hope, no matter where they are or what circumstances they are facing.
Scotty Smiley is from from Pasco, a small city in Washington State. After high school he attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. After four great years, he graduated and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia and attended Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School. Soon after he moved to Fort Lewis, Washington where he led a 45 man Platoon.
In 2005 while leading his Platoon in Mosul, Iraq, Scotty found himself in front of a suicide car bomb. After the man blew himself up, shrapnel blew through Scotty’s eyes leaving him blinded and temporarily paralyzed, he woke up in Walter Reed Army Medical Center a week later. Though questioning his faith, Scotty made a decision to forgive and rebuild his life and continue to serve in the Army, becoming the first blind active-duty officer in military history.
The Army Times named Scotty “Soldier of the Year” in 2007 and in 2008 he won an ESPY as the world’s Best Outdoor Athlete. After receiving a Master of Business Administration from Duke University, Scotty taught the core course in leadership at West Point and then commanded the Warrior Transition Unit at West Point’s Keller Army Medical Center. Scotty is a recipient of the Army’s prestigious MacArthur Leadership Award and holds an honorary PhD from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY. In 2010, Scotty received a Father of the Year award in New York and in 2011 received the Christopher Award for all he has given and continues to give.
Since then, Scotty attended the Maneuver Captain Career Course in Fort Benning, Georgia, and then moved to Spokane, Washington where he held a position with the Gonzaga University ROTC Department, teaching and mentoring America’s future leaders.
After many years of service, Scotty retired from the military in 2015. Over his military career Major (Retired) Smiley received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart; Combat Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, Airborne Wings and Combat Diver Qualification Badge.
He currently works with the capital markets department at Drexel Hamilton out of New York as an investment banker for corporations and banks around the world.
With a passion for using his story to build hope in this world, Scotty authored Hope Unseen in 2010 and now travels all over the country speaking and sharing his message of perseverance, courage and hope.
He is an avid adventurer and has completed the Coeur d’Alene Iron Man, climbed Mt Rainer, gone skydiving, surfing and is always looking for his next chance to try something new.
Scotty is married to his high school sweetheart, Tiffany and the couple lives in Spokane and are the proud parents of Grady Douglas, Graham Elliott, and Baylor Scott.
"Marketplace leaders gathering and encouraging the body of Christ while sharing the good news of Jesus with those who do not know him."