IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Iraq war vet: 'Now it's time to win' at Paralympics

LONDON -- "I love my country. I fought for it, and now it's time to win for it,” said U.S. Army Iraq war veteran Scott Winkler, who was paralyzed in 2003 while serving on a mission in Tikrit.

"When you raise your hand and you swear to your country, that is the chance you have to take. That's the biggest part of being a soldier," Winkler, now a shot putter on the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team, told NBC News.

Bound to a wheelchair for life, he battled depression and went through a divorce. While in recovery at the VA Augusta Spinal Cord Injury Unit in Georgia, it was a struggle to regain self-sufficiency.

"I said enough is enough. I don't want anyone taking care of me and dressing me, bathing me. ... I'm a soldier," Winkler, 39, said.

Determined to find another way to serve his country, he dug into physical strength building and joined the Paralympic U.S. Track and Field circuit.

Within a year, Winkler, broke the world record in the Paralympic shot put. In 2007, he won gold in the shot put at the Para-Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a toss of 10.53 meters (34 feet 6 inches).

Ex-Marine Angela Madsen on her journey from homelessness to Paralympics

Winkler then set his sights on the Beijing Paralympic Games, and in 2008, he made history as one of the first Iraq war veterans to ever compete in the Games.

"I started thinking to myself a little motto. If you believe you can achieve. And I kept saying to myself, 'I believe I can make the team.' And I achieved it and I made that team," he said.

'Meet the Superhumans': Paralympians burst onto world stage

After narrowly missing a medal in Beijing but finding further golden success at the 2011 Para-Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, he is going into London 2012 with his focus firmly on reaching the podium.

'I wouldn't change a thing'
Winkler is now happily remarried and devoted to helping others overcome their disabilities.

Full coverage in London 2012: Hosting the Games

He co-founded Champions Made From Adversity, a non-profit that provides sports and leisure activities for people with physical disabilities and their families.

Even if he had the chance to magically go back in time and reverse his paralysis, he said he would not do so.

"I'm happy the way I am. God put me this way for a reason – to spread the word that there is life after injury -- and I wouldn't change a thing," he said.

PhotoBlog: 2012 Paralympics kick off with the first day of action

Winkler takes the stage of one the world’s biggest sporting event on Saturday when the shot put competition begins.

Read Scott Winkler's profile in the London 2012 Paralympic site

More world stories from NBC News:

Follow World News from on Twitter and Facebook