David Cromwell has always had a keen eye for the fine details in life. With the help of the Prosthetics Service at the San Antonio VA, the Army Veteran has cultivated a passion for sharpshooting.

Even though Cromwell has been in a wheelchair for the last 33 years, he hasn’t let that slow him down. Traveling all over the world, from Thailand to Dubai, he recently made the Para-Shooting National Developmental team and is exceeding expectations while also creating tools that help him along the way.

“These guys make sure that I’m up and able to do the things that I’m doing,” Cromwell said. “I have to confess: Sometimes I come in just to check and see how they are doing because they’re friends. They are our extended family. They care as much about what’s going on with us as we do.”

Over the years while competing, Cromwell realized that many components of his rifle didn’t conform to the challenges he faced with his hands. It wasn’t until he started asking around the Prosthetics Service at the San Antonio VA about 3D printing that he discovered a solution.

“I spent three days carving, shaping and fine-tuning a foam block for a grip with a dremel and sandpaper to make it a grip to work properly with my hand. Prosthetics Service worked with it and added a composite material around the model grip. It’s been a little trial and error, making adjustments, and it has helped me so much,” he said.

Since then, Cromwell made the National Development Team and even qualified for the Pan American Games and World Championship in Sydney, Australia.

Gordon Bosker, a supervisor in Prosthetics Service at the San Antonio VA, says the caring attitude amongst employees is extremely high.

“People say it’s weird, but it’s cutting edge. I’m hoping with the new 3D printer that we get that we can start scanning him and doing some real weird stuff,” Bosker said.

Like family

Cromwell said he is looking forward to the opportunity of utilizing a 3D printer and says he has been chomping at the bit for it to arrive.

“I didn’t know they did it here. With adaptive shooting, they don’t have any specific for what we’re doing. We’re a very small niche and so we’re having to create everything,” he said.

“We can do a lot of things if they want to and he wanted to,” Bosker said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to be sure that we meet his needs.”

Even during a health scare two months ago, Prosthetic Service staff members checked in on him, something Cromwell said they didn’t even need to do, but wanted to.

“It’s making sure we’re squared away. There’s that aspect, but I think they genuinely care too. They are outstanding, I know they are trying. The frontline people are incredible, and Bosker is like a big brother. This is like a family,” he said.

Justin L. Gonzales is a public affairs specialist at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System

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Published on Nov. 18, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

Views to date: 125


  1. Larry Young November 28, 2019 at 2:55 am

    I would love to be a part of the WarFighter Scuba program. Have a number to call to get more infro.but if anyone that reads this and know about the program please let me know
    I’m ex-navy and did a lot of swim call at sea.saltwater is easier to swim in than fresh water.so I would love a trip to Rotoan,Hondura to scuda on one of the most beautiful reefs in the world

  2. Charles Cory November 21, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    I think this a great story. He was, and is not, playing. He found a way to improve his situation. I might sympathize with S W but her gripe about this great, uplifting article is just plain wrong. I feel sorry for someone that would demean someone who has found a way to overcome his disability. There is nothing inappropriate about this action or his recovery. Use of a 3D printer or implanting a “Tens” unit is his choice not hers. The sparkly remark about having the “right appendage” is uncalled for, immature and just plain wrong.

  3. S W November 19, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Isn’t this just a bit fraudulent? Using prosthetic money to make a gun grip? I can’t speak for any other veterans but I know I don’t have a gun grip anywhere on my body.

    Please explain to me how 3D printing is cost effective but implanting a TENS unit isn’t. Tell me exactly how does inappropriately printing a gun grip improve Mr Cromwell’s quality of life. Maybe, I’m just plain INVISIBLE (read a woman veteran) so it’s too costly for me to have an implanted TENS unit so I can have a better quality of life but it’s perfectly ok to fraudulently spend VA money on a gun grip so a male veteran can PLAY.

  4. S W November 19, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Isn’t this a bit fraudulent? Using prosthetic money to make a gun grip? I don’t know about other veterans but I don’t have a gun grip anywhere on my body.

    Explain to me please how 3D printing is cost effective but implanting something like a TENS unit isn’t. Maybe, it’s just that I’m invisible and Mr Cromwell isn’t, he has the right appendage to be a real veteran so the VA can spend money in an inappropriate way such as this so he can PLAY while a female veteran can’t even get a MEDICAL device that would improve her quality of life.

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