Veteran Faces of CNM: Manuel Tsosie

Manuel is a veteran and bounced back from a devastating injury to be a successful CNM student
November 09, 2021

Manuel “Manny” Tsosie grew up on the Navajo Nation and decided to join the military after high school. Soon after, he was on a plane to South Carolina and eventually served in an Army position where his job was to take apart and disable landmines. 

Unfortunately, about two years into his service, one of those landmines detonated killing Manuel’s best friend and leaving him in a coma. When he woke up, Manny learned he was legally blind and 90-percent deaf in one ear. He went back home after physical therapy and started the long process of recovering.

Eventually, Manny started a program run by the Commission for the Blind where he learned to read braille and use computers that could speak to him. Then, Manny’s wife convinced him to go back to school. 

“She is the one who told me maybe I should start going to school, learn something, and give back to the community. That is how I ended up at the front doors of CNM,” Manny says.

Currently, Manny is working on a degree in Human Services and one in Psychology and has become involved with Veterans Resource Center and Disability Resource Center. He will graduate with his degree in Human Services this December and finish his Psychology degree during the 2022 Spring term. 

Manny says he’s studying Human Services and wants to eventually work in a hospital because of all the help he received after the explosion. 

“These people didn’t know me but they were still doing everything they could to make sure I woke up from my coma,” he says.

More recently, Manny came down with COVID-19. He spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and more time in recovery but always kept school at the forefront of his plans.

"All he ever talked about was getting back to school so he could do good things for the community," says Matthew Fuentes, Veterans Resource Center Program Coordinator. "Manny challenges the world around him to be better. Not just through words, not just through deeds but also through everything that he is and has grown into. He is a leader and I look up to him as a hero."

After graduating from CNM, Manny plans to attend a computer program in Texas to build his skills and then wants to get a bachelor’s degree in Human Services at UNM.

Recently, Manny had a large op-ed published in the Navajo Times. He still lives on the Navajo Nation and explained how hard it is for residents to dispose of their trash, as well as the issues related to illegal dumping.

“As you get older you start understanding that the elements around you -- the sky, the water, the air, the ground...those are all going to still be here once we are gone,” he says. “Why do we need to trash everything for our younger generation to clean up? That kind of hit close to home for me.”

Here at CNM, Manuel says he’s grateful for all the help he’s received on his journey. He credits the Disability Resource Center, the Veterans Resource Center, and his instructors for helping him succeed and says they’re also part of the reason he wants to give back. 

“So many people have had a hand in my recovery and I look forward to helping many other people in the future,” he says.