Things to read...

If time is short, I'd suggest reading at LEAST The Prologue and Legend of The Pinto Bean Posts!

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's all... About... The... Benjamins???

Good morning world! I'm posting this today, memorial day, to talk about a few things that are near and dear to me. Basically the intent of this post is to answer several e-mails/questions i've been asked about the donations. Read on!

A number of people have asked about the donations. Specifically, what do I intend to do with "the leftovers"? Well I must admit I'd not really considered the possibility given that right now that's not a forseeable issue, but in the event it happens, here's "The Plan".

Most all of us know someone who's gone off to combat. I guess if you're reading this, you at least "know" me. A few of us even know those who went off to combat, and sadly never returned. Today is memorial day, a day set aside to remember those who paid for our freedoms with their lives. Whether it was a "just war", whether you feel your freedoms were that much more protected, or whether you don't care about soldiers or freedom at all is irrelevant here.

Well what I ask is that in addition to remembering the fallen, you also take a moment to remember those that stumbled, our combat wounded. While the returning soldiers go through the honor of at least some sort of ceremony, even so far as a parade in their hometown, there are no honors for the wounded. The plane lands at Walter Reed, and you're moved on to your new life with all the fanfare of you're morning mail delivery.

Once at your final destination, a unique parade awaits. There is ticker tape, lights, people, and the works. The ticker tape is from an EKG, the lights above the surgical theater, the music provided by the rythmic beeps of various monitors, and people dressed not in the uniforms of a marching band, but in the austere sterility of the hospital that is now your home. The emotion is sadness, for there is no joy at this parade.

Finally you arrive at your room, where if you are fortunate your family awaits. Often times the rapidity at which you've been shuffled into this new and unfamiliar world prevents even this comfort from becoming a reality for at least the first day or two. Finally, a new day breaks through the curtains of your room, and meanwhile life goes on in the rest of the world.

For the returning uninjured, this is a day that has been so eagerly anticipated, so looked forward to, and so welcome in its' arrival. For the wounded servicemember lying in their bed, it's a day that was dreaded and unsuspected, a day that crept up upon us without so much as a whipser of warning. While our friends move back into their daily lives, holding their children and running to wal-mart, the injured wonder if they can hold their child with one arm, whether running is possible when there is nothing below the knee. On either leg.

It's on this 1st day back you meet a group I am intimately familiar with. Amongst the doctors and nurses, all dedicated to providing you with the utmost care, while remaining detatched enough to remain sane comes a representative. They come to see you, knowing what it's like to be there. They know because they themselves WERE there, often not long ago. This person who comes to see you is from The Wounded Warrior Project. For me, this person was Brian Neuman.

Brian lost his arm at the shoulder when an RPG came through the Bradley he was in. He lost his arm, and his interpreter lost his life. Brian then came to BAMC in San Antonio, TX for rehab, and this is where he ultimately retired from the Army and took up his current post as the WWP representative there.

The day I met him he came baring a gift. This gift was a backpack, and in it were things that the average person would wonder why they'd gotten them, but the wounded know why. Shorts, shirts, toiletries, a CD player, a few other things. The things you'd pack when you were going to stay somewhere. The things you didn't pack, because you didn't know. See when you are injured, you leave the country with nothing. If your unit has time, you MIGHT have a personal item or two. I had my laptop, my Cav hat, and my pillow. I only had those because my roomate then 1LT Mark Jordan knew I didn't travel without them, regardless of the situation. Thanks, Mark!

After giving you these trivial things to help you feel human again, the WWP guys help guide you through the endless paperwork you have to fill out, and all the other things you now need to know, and wish you didn't. Finally, after all this, they help in your rehab.

They help not by changing your bandages, by pushing you harder in rehab, or by influencing the military in their decisions about your future. They help by getting you out and showing you that you are still alive. They take you on hunts, fishing trips, ski trips, sporting events, and all manner of recreation. Later they help by tring to make sure you are prepared for a job in the civilian world, or that the VA is holding up their end of the deal in your new life. They do all this not because congress set aside some portion of the budget to help them. No government agency mandated their existence, nor does any government agency hold sway over their direction. They do this because they've been there. They do this because people they've never met helped.

I write all this because people have asked about my donations. While I'm asking for donations, and will certainly need them to finish my trip, I have plans should I get more than needed. While some people question the authenticity of me and my trip, and others see me as just another vet asking for money, there's no doubt that these guys are for real. What I ask is that those who can or want to help me on my journey please donate to my cause, I also ask that the naysayers follow the link to the WWP site and maybe help there. In the end, if I DO have more than I need, my intent is to take what's not needed, and donate it to the WWP. Hopefully this will answer the questions of those who feel I may be cooking up a great personal windfall with my stories. These men and women of the WWP have done so much for a group that is completely forgotten by most everyone. If you don't want to help me, please go help them!!

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