Before the Army
CJ Stewart is a native of Bossier City, Louisiana and was born in February of 1989. He and his older sister, Megan, were raised by parents Chuck and Robin, and by extended family who lived nearby.
CJ’s journey of trial began at an early age when he was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis and underwent three surgeries in just three months. CJ believes God was preparing both him and his family for what he had in store, down the road.
Later in life, CJ’s family experienced several job-related moves. He remembers leaning on sport-team relationships to experience consistency, commitment and discipline throughout his school-aged years.
In 2001, CJ’s family transitioned to Madison, Mississippi and Madison-Ridgeland Academy, where he attended high school. He then enrolled at Mississippi College to pursue a degree in criminal justice with aspirations of attending law school.
But for the first time in CJ’s life, he felt like he was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. He recalls not being happy as a college freshman–doing what was expected of him at this stage of the game. He spent time dreaming of becoming a soldier in the United States Army, as CJ has many military routes in his bloodline.
He began talking about his unhappiness, the Army, and the possibility of actually enlisting with family and friends–realizing that this could become a reality. CJ eventually enlisted to become a medic in the Army, describing his new career as “God’s bait” to His chosen path.
After the Army
In June 2009, CJ left for basic training for the U.S. Army as a combat medic. It was there at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, where he believed his life was on track with God’s plan. He went on to graduate top of his class as the Distinguished Honor Graduate and received awards for marksmanship and physical training. He attributes these accomplishments to his dedication and focus on God and God’s purpose for him.
CJ was thriving on his new path, both physically and relationally. He realized his impact on fellow soldiers and was able to utilize his leadership role to guide classmates in their spiritual walk within a morally challenging environment.
CJ was assigned to Bravo Company 1-502nd Infantry Regiment at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division. He deployed with his unit to Southern Afghanistan in May of 2010.
Bravo Company was assigned to secure two small outposts near Pashmul, Afghanistan–an area located near Kandahar and the birthplace of Mullah Omar and the Taliban. During the first few weeks, Bravo was involved in daily encounters with insurgents and received several casualties.
On June 15th, CJ became one of those casualties. Their outpost was attacked, mid-day, by RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and machine gun fire. As CJ grabbed his aid bag to help a fellow soldier, he heard a deafening explosion and turned toward the building to see what happened. The right side of his body was covered in blood. The RPG had struck the building right above where CJ was standing. Shrapnel from the blast was sent through CJ’s right arm and right leg, causing immediate life-threatening and extensive injury.
He was rushed to Kandahar Airfield where the medical team standing by began working to save CJ’s life and recover what they could of CJ’s extremities. CJ was kept alive in Kandahar and stabilized in Germany. Eventually, he was sent to the nation’s capital to recover from his war injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
CJ’s story is unique because of his life experiences. It is impactful because of his response; a positive attitude and a smile on his face–regardless of his circumstance. Through his recovery process, he realized the attention that his injury and experience received. These frequent questions were recognized as an open door to share his story and the reason for his hope.
While recuperating at Walter Reed, CJ shared his idea of serving of an outdoor military camp with his occupational therapist, Danielle. His very supportive OT eventually became CJ’s wife, and together, they moved to Mississippi to carry out the mission of the CJ Stewart Foundation.
CJ Stewart Foundation
“The greatest honor I have received is seeing how America responded to me after I was injured–with nothing but love and encouragement.” He believes it is his duty as a follower of Christ and a brother to many who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to serve others by sharing his story. His hope is that through the non-profit, he will be able to share his faith, and that it might be contagious.
The non-profit serves as the vehicle to carry out and maintain the heart of CJ’s mission: Down Range. This 200-acre camp now serves as the headquarters of the CJ Stewart Foundation and is where all programs take place.
We want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you for visiting our website and supporting the mission we have been called to pursue. For those of you who have given of your time, goods, services, and money, thank you. We would not be able to operate without you. For those of you that continually lift up this foundation in prayer, we ask that you do not cease in your efforts because we know this will be a constant battle. That love and encouragement is what sparked the roots of this foundation while I was lying in that hospital room. Many of my brothers are no longer able to see or hear the gratitude for their sacrifices in that their sacrifice cost them everything. Just as they did with their last breath on earth, we will strive to leave this world a better place, no matter the cost. Again, I sincerely thank you for your prayers and support throughout this entire process.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.”