After graduation from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Economics, Ferris continued his family’s long military tradition by enlisting in the U.S. Army. He attended basic training at Fort Jackson, SC, and was then commissioned at the Army’s Officer Candidate School in Fort Benning, GA in May 2005. He completed the remainder of his training in Georgia, including Infantry Officer Basic Course, Ranger School, and Airborne School. Second Lieutenant Butler was then assigned as an Infantry Platoon Leader with Delta Company, 2-14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light), at Fort Drum, NY.
2nd BCT 10TH Mountain Division deployed to southern Iraq in August 2006. Newly promoted 1LT Butler was on combat patrol on December 21, 2006 when his vehicle activated the pressure plate of an Improvised Explosive Device. Fortunately, his driver and gunner were unharmed; however, he sustained extensive lower leg and foot fractures as well as soft tissue, nerve, and muscle damage. Ferris spent two plus years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, attempting to salvage what remained of his lower legs. After 52 surgeries, he made the difficult decision to amputate both legs and move forward with his recovery on prosthetics.
Although it was a long journey to medical retirement, Ferris was blessed with meeting so many incredibly kind people who helped him through this difficult time. One of those people is Project Healing Waters founder Ed Nicholson, who arrived at his hospital bedside early in his recovery, ready to introduce Ferris to the healing powers of fly fishing. Project Healing Waters provided needed respite from the hospital, established confidence in traversing terrain in his new body, and introduced him to a support network he still relies on today. Ferris attributes his successful recovery to the countless friends, family, and strangers who recognize the importance of creating a strong support system, to ensure he had a seamless reintegration into society.
Ferris has committed to turning this tragedy into a triumph by pursuing the education and employment opportunities that have resulted from his injury. He began his transition out of the military with a Senate internship on Capitol Hill and joined a real estate development firm upon retirement. He completed Syracuse University’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans in 2009, and graduated in May, with honors, from Syracuse’s MBA program. Ferris’ newest endeavors have included co-founding a fundraising initiative, Blasting for the Brave, with his wife, Laura. This fundraiser brings awareness to top-rated military nonprofits and raised $70K in its inaugural event for Project Healing Waters and the Pat Tillman Foundation. His next mission will have him taking the entrepreneurial leap of faith by opening a real estate development firm, New Line Development, LLC.
Other notable accomplishments are:
- Board of Directors, Homes for our Troops
- Peer Mentor, Amputee Collation of America
- Healing Towers Director and Fundraising Committee Member, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing