*The audio starts a bit shaky, but does get better!
Born in Toronto, Canada in 1973, Sgt. J. Mark Soteroff grew up in a very suburban area until he was fifteen. After his dad received a civilian company posting in Taipei, Taiwan, Sgt. Soteroff spent grades 11 and 12 at Taipei American School, to which he admits were some of the best years of his life.
Leaving Taiwan was very difficult for Sgt. Soteroff, as he left behind great friends and a girlfriend that was heading back to Paris. Like many at seventeen, he was not equipped to deal with that type of change. He went to college for about two years but confesses to having no interest in school. Eventually falling in with a bad crowd, Sgt. Soteroff came very close to spending a good amount of time in jail. He straightened out, started working, and using his salesmanship skills, managed to work out a deal in trade for a gym membership next door to his job. After a year of training and working out, and following in the footsteps of several family members, he decided to join the army.
Initially joining a reserve infantry regiment in Toronto called The Royal Regiment of Canada, Sgt. Soteroff excelled in the military life and decided to switch from reserve status to full time. He taught basic training, career courses and machine gun courses and loved every minute. Volunteering for service on a roto during the Afghanistan War, Sgt. Soteroff had also reconnected with a former girlfriend. In his words,” life seemed perfect.” All that changed on 14 June 2010 at 0936 hours as his platoon was ambushed on Route Summit between FOB Wilson and Masum Ghar, Afghanistan. Severely injured when an RPG shredded through the fuel tank of the armored vehicle he was using for cover, he sustained significant injuries to his face, neck, and hip. In addition, his right arm was nearly severed, as were several fingers on his left hand. Medevacked to Bagram and then to Landstuhl, Germany, Sgt. Soteroff believes most of his left hand remains intact today with the luck that a fantastic hand surgeon happened to be passing through Bagram.
While those injuries ended his infantry career, Sgt. Soteroff remained in the military. Remarkably, fitness became a huge part of his recovery, both physically and mentally. So much so that in just a few years, he went from a logistical job to being accepted into a specialized unit. He shined within that unit and treasured every minute of it.
Today, Sgt. Soteroff works with members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP who suffer from PTSD. Having himself been diagnosed with an OSI, TBI and PTSD a few years earlier, his job now is to help those who suffer from the same scars. Sgt. Soteroff lives in a very peaceful small town in the Ottawa Valley near Canada’s capitol, with his beautiful wife and their eight-year-old daughter, who he admits is growing all too fast! With many family members also living in the area, he sits on the board of his towns gun club and owns a small portion of the local gym. While missing the desert and the excitement of his military days, Sgt. Soteroff believes it is time to be home for birthdays and anniversaries and enjoys the peace and calm of small town life.
Sgt. Soteroff can be reached at: