HHH goes to Brooke Army Medical Center

 

Rosita Underwood, HHH Founder, and the honorary Purple Heart Recepient

Rosita Underwood, HHH Founder, and the honorary Purple Heart Recepient

On September 6, 2013, Helping Hometown Heroes took to the road to bring a little fun and excitement to the brave men and women of Brooke Army Medical Center of San Antonio, Texas. Working in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Calvary of Fort Hood, Texas and R.A.W. (Rebuilding America’s Warriors) of California, over 350 heroes were able to attend our first annual backyard BBQ .

Many local businesses joined forces with us to ensure that the BBQ was a success. All Occasions of Texas, one of San Antonio’s premier catering companies, provided the meal with the assistance of many volunteers from the 2-8 chopping vegetables, flipping burgers and serving the buffet line. DJ Jake kept the spirits high with some lively music and took many requests from the guests. When the line dancing started everyone knew that the backyard picnic had just become a party!

Of course we didn’t show up empty handed… over 200 t-shirts and goodie bags were distributed. R.A.W. provided door prizes for the warriors, including an IPAD!

We were all touched by the very moving Purple Heart ceremony that was held a few minutes before the start of our event and we were extremely honored to have witnessed such a heart-felt and touching ceremony. We are never reminded more of the sacrifices a warrior makes than when you see the look of pride and love on a mother’s face as she watches her son wheel his chair up to the front to accept his award with such humble grace.

After months of planning, hours of travel, endless conversations, big hugs and bigger smiles, the BBQ was complete. Before we finished cleaning up the courtyard we were planning the next one… Friday, April 11, 2014 we will be returning to do it all over again. See you soon San Antonio!!!

Ramping It Up

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They say love can build a bridge… but how about a ramp?

When Chris and his family moved back to Tennessee after a long recovery at Walter Reed National Medical Military Center, he and his family found that they were in need of a wheelchair accessible ramp. After several exhausting calls to the VA, Heather, Chris’ wife, reached out to some familiar faces from their days at WRNMMC….

The ladies of Helping Hometown Heroes contacted the town’s Director of Development.  After a few minutes, they knew they were on the right path. That afternoon, three contractors visited the home of Chris and Heather to provide estimates for the ramp project.

A small organization, Ramps for Christ, stepped up and donated their time to building a 21’ ramp and threshold ramps for Chris. Helping Hometown Heroes raised the funds and paid for the supplies, while the whole project was overseen by, marine corp veteran, Mike Kohler.

Within two weeks of Heather’s initial call for help, the new ramp was completed and ready.  This ramp is so much more than a means for Chris to resume a normal life, it is a true testament to the love and respect for our brave men and women and all that they have sacrificed. People that have never met face to face worked, cried and celebrated together in honor of all that Chris and his family are and will continue to be.

 

Wounded Iraq, Afghanistan vets cycling to Keys – Florida – MiamiHerald.com

Full Story HERE

Army Staff Sgt. Russell Dennison and Spc. Calvin Todd, both 24, served together and lost legs together, just three months ago in Afghanistan.Now, they’re on their first outing together from Walter Reed Hospital — among dozens of U.S. military veterans taking part in a Soldier Ride from Miami through the Florida Keys.“I haven’t been on a bike since I got blown up,” said Todd, a combat medic who was learning how to fit his prosthetic leg into a new bicycle Wednesday in the parking lot of a hotel in Aventura.

Nearby, his platoon sergeant, Dennison, was being fitted with a recumbent bike to fit both prosthetic legs, replacements for the limbs he lost in battle Oct. 4 in Afghanistan.

“He and I got hit 30 seconds apart,” explained Todd. “He got blown up, and I took off running to him, and I got blown up.”

This is the eighth year of the Soldier Ride through the Keys, now under the banner of the Wounded Warrior Project. And Walter Reed occupational therapist Harvey Naranjo signed 10 of his U.S. Army and Marines patients up for their first full-fledged outing from the military hospital since their injuries.

Or, as Todd put it, using the lingo that is commonplace back at his base, Fort Stewart, Ga., he was “volun-told” to take the trip.

So like a good soldier, he declared himself eager to do it.

“These guys are all studs. They’re all athletes,” declared Naranjo, himself a former U.S. Army combat medic. ”The expectations are going to be high for them.”

The Soldier Ride starts Thursday morning on South Beach, a warm-up spin that takes the cyclists across the Venetian Causeway to Marlins Stadium.

Friday, they start their ride south in Key Largo, including across the fabled seven-mile bridge — the latest journey in a series of trips that ride founder Dan Schnock estimated has put 1,000 disabled veterans on a range of styles of bikes across the country and in Europe and Israel since 2004.

This trip also includes a swim with the dolphins in Marathon and a trolley ride in Key West .

Most of the cyclists are medically retired service members, like retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Scheifer, 29, who broke his spine in a Humvee roll in a training exercise in California between his third and fourth deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

This week he has brought his hand-cycle from his Miramar Beach home, near Destin. He has never ridden his bike further than 15 miles and now is about to take his longest hand-pedaled ride ever, through the Keys.

“I’m up for the challenge,” he said, noting, “I work out a bit.”

Plus, after a recent deer hunting outing to Georgia with the Wounded Warriors, the airman turned Defense Department contractor is bullish about the comradery.

“You’re as fast as your slowest guy,” he said, noting that since he can hand pedal the bike to speeds of 20-25 miles-per-hour he didn’t want to be at the back of the pack. “Hope not,” he said.

For many of these men, who’ve seen the world in the uniform of the U.S. military, this is their first visit to Miami and the Keys. Dennison is from Illinois, Todd is from New Hampshire. And Scheifer is a Michigan native who moved south after his injury to set up a business, and also for the weather.

At 29, he sounds like a classic snowbird on his first ever visit to Miami. “I love warm weather,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/09/3174982/wounded-iraq-afghanistan-vets.html#storylink=cpy

 

Dan Froomkin: How Many U.S. Soldiers Were Wounded in Iraq? Guess Again.

Full Story HERE

Wounded Iraq Veteran, Daniel Jacobs, Tries Out for Los Angeles Dodgers at Spring Training | Fox News Insider

FULL STORY HERE!

There’s an inspiring story coming out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spring training in Glendale, Arizona. Former manager Tommy Lasorda helped to facilitate a tryout for Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel “Doc” Jacobs, who lost part of his leg in a 2006 bombing in Iraq.

Jacobs was among more than 80 hopefuls at the tryout. Jacobs has also made headlines by becoming the first amputee to be declared fit to return to active duty.

Jacobs, who before his military service was a talented baseball player, had to endure more than 50 surgeries, and also suffered injuries to his foot and hand.

There was a point that he was trying to make by showing up to the tryout.

“It’s a dream come true, but my bigger mission is to show America that wounded veterans are still here and we’re not going to lay down and be a statistic,” he said.

Gallery of Heroes

 

The Bond of A Mother

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When the doors to the ambulance opened at the emergency entrance of Walter Reed Hospital, Rosita had no idea that she was about to embark on the mission of a lifetime.

Reno, was severely injured in a roadside bomb while riding in his Humvee in March of 2007. After being evacuated to a military hospital in Germany where he was stabalized, Reno was then transported to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC. He spent the next three years undergoing reconstructive surgeries and procedures to rebuild his facial features. During this time, he and Rosita developed a bond that will never be broken, the kind of bond that a mother has with a son, one of compassion, respect and most of all love.

Since Rosita’s decision to create Helping Hometown Heroes, she has personally learned that being a mother truly is the greatest gift she has in her life. Having two sons of her own, one that served in the Navy and the other currently serving in the Army, she knows first hand the power that her hugs and encouraging words can provide. Too many times to count, she has been there for a wounded warrior offering  support, listening, lifting their spirits and holding their hands. Her passion and true admiration for everyone she meets is witnessed in the way she is greeted when entering a room.

Helping Hometown Heroes has become a foundation built on family values, building lasting relationships that continue long after the warrior has returned home. This is a true testament to the bond of a mother… our founding mother, Rosita.

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