Skip to content

Video: Finding Purpose After a Burn Injury

Returning to work after a burn injury means something different for everyone, and each survivor experiences unique challenges and opportunities in their journey. For some, a burn injury inspires a new career path; for others, the focus is on returning to a job they love. Others may find purpose and meaning outside of a day job, through volunteer work, a meaningful hobby, volunteer work in the community or caring for family and being head of the household.

In this session, listen to a panel of survivors who will share their own experiences of work and purpose after a burn injury. We’ll explore the benefits and barriers – both physical and emotional – of returning to work and the unique experiences that one can face after a burn injury.


This is a session recording from Phoenix: Engage 2022. 


Meet The SpeakerS

Dr. Shelley Wiechman (moderator) is the Director of Psychological Services for the Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She has been providing psychological services to the burn unit for the past 22 years. She is the Phoenix SOAR co-coordinator and does research on improving the quality of life of burn survivors.

Samoana Matagi earned a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism in 2004. After two years in the field of Broadcast Journalism, he changed career paths to a high voltage electrical line worker, or lineworker. Three years into his apprenticeship, he was involved in an electrical work accident that cost him his hands. He then became critically acclaimed for his recovery story that drove him to create a YouTube channel to help other amputees. Now, he speaks to audiences about resilience. Learn more at or by connecting with him on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram.

Luis Nevarez recently retired as the fire chief after 32 years of service Chief Nevarez worked for the City of Tulare Fire Department well he began his career in 1989. January 26, 2002 Chief Nevarez Accidentally made contact with he high-voltage 12,000 V power line which led to the amputation of his left below elbow extremity. Chief Nevarez, had third-degree exit wounds throughout his body. He was hospitalized at Fresno’s Burn Unit for approximately five weeks. He return to work seven months from the date of his accident. With his determination and no quit attitude. Once he was fitted for a prosthetic he began training every day to build his strength, train with all the fire equipment and put himself through the fire Academy to return back to work. Chief Nevarez Completed and passed all manipulative skills required from recruit firefighters and was back to work as a firefighter within one year of his accident with no restrictions and no accommodations. Chief Nevarez worked his way up the ranks and recently retired as the fire chief. Luis is a trained Phoenix SOAR peer supporter and has provided peer support for burn survivors at the Fresno Burn Unit and nationwide for firefighter burn survivors.

Moss Bittner manages 200 acres of vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. He loves music, architecture, and the meditative pace of a slow cooked meal.

Grace Athena Flott is a painter, arts educator, and burn survivor advocate. She is a member of the Jasmine Jahanshahi Fire Safety Foundation, a Phoenix SOAR volunteer, and volunteer camp counselor for Camp Eyabsut, a camp for burn survivor kids of all ages. She grew up in eastern Washington State and now resides in Seattle, where she holds drawing and painting classes in her private studio and online.

Read More


2024 Journey Magazine - Edition One

Access the first edition of our 2024 Journey Magazine today.

Read More

2023 Phoenix SOAR Annual Report

Download our complete report about the 2023 current state of the burn survivor.

Read More

2023 State of the Survivor Report

Download our complete report about the 2023 current state of the burn survivor.

Read More