"I broke the top of my femur, so with the plate and screws, now I'm actually, two months later, able to walk - do some walking on my own," Ballard told us. "Physical therapy is coming along very well."
Once the hip is back to full strength, Ballard will need knee surgery to repair ligament damage, but he shrugs and voices encouragement at his progress and smiles a confident smile when asked about his ultimate goal.
"Get back and fight," Ballard said without hesitation. "Return to duty."
Veterans Day traditionally has been set aside more to honor those who have served rather than those still serving. But eight-plus years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a huge class of combat veterans who still wear the uniform, many of them with two or three or more deployments under their belts and perhaps more in their futures.