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Why military veterans make great chefs

from KCET

For Dan Tapia, a recovering quadriplegic and Navy veteran, the month of October marks two major life-altering events. In October 2009, he left Santa Monica on a cross-country cycling trip to Miami, and in a day's ride in route to Albuquerque, New Mexico, he was hit by a semi-truck going 65 miles-per-hour. As a result of the accident, Tapia broke his neck on pre-existing service connected fracture lines he incurred as a submariner and would have to undergo surgery at the VA Medical Center in West Los Angeles. "I woke up from the surgery and I couldn't use my arms or legs," he says. "I'm considered a quadriplegic but I'm what's called a walking quad — a high functioning quad but I have very limited feeling and strength in my hands and legs." Tapia says that after the Navy, before his accident, he worked his way up in the hospitality and restaurant industry, focusing on beverage management and consulting — becoming a certified sommelier and cicerone. Fortunately, when he was ready to return to work, his fundamental knowledge and experience quickly landed him as a sommelier to some of L.A.'s top restaurants. more

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