Valdivia joined the Army Reserves 10 years ago as a way of giving back to a country that he says has allowed his Mexican family to prosper. After weeks in a Ft. Hood hospital recovering from gunshot wounds to his leg, hip and ear, Validivia says he is determined to heal fully, although he knows it's going to take months of hard work.
With the help of crutches, Valdivia gingerly made his way to his couch Sunday. The 35-year-old Army staff sergeant is not only thankful to be home in for Christmas, but Valdivia is thankful to be alive.
"Oh, I feel super lucky, very lucky. Yeah, especially being shot three times in different areas," said Valdivia.
A day after he arrived in Ft. Hood, Texas to prepare for a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Valdivia was filling out paper work when he saw a uniformed soldier walk into the building, yell something in a foreign language and open fire.
Valdivia and others thought it was a training exercise.
"He was wearing a uniform. I didn't expect anything bad to be taking place," the soldier said.
Valdivia still did not think anything bad was taking place, even as the shooter looked straight into his eyes from 12 feet away.
"He looked at me. I looked at him, and he shot me two times. He didn't look angry. He was just calm," said Valdivia.
The soldier was shot in the leg and hip. Yet, it took a third shot for Valdivia to realize the shooting was not a training exercise.
"He shot me in the ear, on the side, and I felt my ear getting warm, and I saw something dripping. I looked down, and it was my real blood. Then, I realized this was real," Valdivia said.
It wasn't until a few days after the Ft. Hood shooting while recovering in the hospital did Valdivia learn the extent of the tragedy as he was shown as list of the dead and wounded.
"I saw names I knew, and I just couldn't believe it," he said.
Valdivia knew four of the soldiers who were killed.
The 35-year-old has months of physical therapy ahead of him. His hope to recover and return to the Army.
Staff Sgt. Miguel Valdivia says, while the shooting was a bad experience, he says it could not have happened in a better place. He is convinced the quick action of Ft. Hood soldiers and the medical care saved more lives.
Valdivia served as a mental health specialist during a tour of Iraq six years ago, and that was to be his job in Afghanistan, as well.
He was in the process of getting a second degree at an Illinois university when I he signed up for a tour of duty.