‘You’re Shot, You’re Paralyzed, You May Never Walk Again’: A Marine Raider’s Story of Recovery and Path to MedTech Entrepreneurship (Part I)

Listen and Subscribe


“The real recovery, mentally and psychologically, was being around the people that I wanted to be around doing something of value and doing something of purpose.”

Hit by a sniper’s bullet at the pinnacle of his military career, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Derek Herrera turned misfortune into his life’s work when he was paralyzed from the chest down.

His military career was over, but his life was not. He decided to leverage his experience with paralysis in the business world, getting a Master of Business Administration and then launching a medical technology business.

In this two-part series, Derek joins FourBlock Podcast hosts Lindsey Pollak and Mike Abrams for an inspiring and candid conversation about his service as a Marine Raider, his injury, recovery, and his journey to starting his own medical technology company. We encourage every transitioning service member to listen to Derek’s story to understand how he overcame the incredible challenges he faced in his transition and how his positive outlook translated to success.

In this first episode, Derek shares details of his service as an elite Marine Raider, his harrowing combat injury and fight to survive, and how he handled the arduous recovery process and overcame the challenges that a service member goes through when faced with a life-changing injury like the one he sustained.

Derek is the Founder and CTO of UroDev Medical (formerly Spinal Singularity), an early-stage medical device company that designs devices to improve the quality of life for people living with Spinal Injury. He created Spinal Singularity after he was injured while serving as a Marine Raider in Afghanistan. After medically retiring from the Marine Corps, Derek graduated from the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Derek serves as President & Chairman of MedTechVets (formerly MVPvets), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies. MedTechVets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans. The organization’s programming is offered at no cost to its participants. He is also the Founder of Habit Camera™, the first low-cost, wireless camera purpose-built for skin inspection and telehealth.

Derek currently serves as the Board President of the Marine Raider Foundation and Board Member of the American Technion Society – Western Region. He resides in San Clemente, CA with his wife Maura and their sons Hudson and Hunter.


Welcome to the FourBlock Podcast, a show that examines veteran career transition and the military-civilian divide in the workplace. General Charles Krulak coined the term “Three Block War” to describe the nature of 21st-century military service defined by peace-keeping, humanitarian aid, and full combat. But what happens next? Veterans are often unprepared to return home and begin new careers. We call this the Fourth Block.

FourBlock is a national non-profit that has supported thousands of transitioning service members across the nation in beginning new and meaningful careers.

Mike Abrams (@fourblock) is an Afghanistan veteran, FourBlock founder, and author of two military transition books. He’ll be representing the military transition perspective. Lindsey Pollak (@lindsaypollak) is a career and workplace expert and New York Times bestselling author of three career advice books. Lindsey will be representing the civilian perspective of this issue.

Veterans, explore new industries and make the right connections. Find a career that fits your calling. Join us at fourblock.org. Sponsor our program or host a class to equip more of our veterans at fourblock.org/donate.

Get the best of FourBlock in your inbox