Resources for America's Returning Wounded Warriors and Their Families
"Where do we find such men and women?"
It's an age-old question used when describing the uncommon valor found in the American service men and women who defend our freedom on a daily basis, and especially those in combat situations.
It's the question that popped into my mind, along with tears in my eyes, five minutes into this Pentagon Channel special that follows the lives of several severely wounded warriors, to see how they are coping with their lives after combat. These service members were first featured in a Pentagon Channel program several years ago, while undergoing rehabilitation for their life-changing injuries. This program is a follow-up to report on their progress two years later.
The life of Army Staff Sgt. Jay Fondgren was changed forever in an instant in Iraq, when a "platter charge" took both his legs and part of his right hand. We can't even imagine the challenges that would present in daily life. Yet when interviewed for this program, he said, "There’s days when I miss having my legs, but when I look back at what we accomplished and the freedoms we’ve given the Iraqi people, it was worth it. I don’t regret anything."
And he went on to say, "I would go back and do it all over again. I would much rather be fighting a war somewhere else than to have roadside bombs and IED's going off in the United States."
This is what the veterans of the War on Terror want desperately to prevent, and it's the reason they willingly "ship out" to fight this war overseas. And it's something they believe WILL happen if we pull the troops out of Iraq before they accomplish their mission. They desperately want the American public, and especially our Congress, to understand that, so their sacrifices will not be in vain.
Jay and his wife Ann have two sons, one born while Jay was in Iraq, and the second one born after his return. Ann exemplifies the finest spirit of the military spouse with her own reaction to their current situation, "The best part is that Jay's home, and we're all together."
Jay sums up his feelings,
"Freedom's a precious thing, and you don't really understand that until you have to pay a price for it."
This program runs thirty minutes, and you'll come away from it with a new appreciation for our service members and their families, and a new wonder at their spirit and determination, and their positive outlook on life despite their hardships. You, too, will wonder, "Where do we find such men?"
And you'll be extremely proud and eternally grateful that we still find them throughout these United States, and in our military.
We're sorry the Pentagon Channel has made the video no longer available, but we found this inspiring story about Jay that you may enjoy. (Scroll down to find his picture.)
President Reagan said in 1984, "Where do we find such men? They are typical of this country. . . . We find them in our streets and our offices and our shops, and the working places of our country, and our farms. . . We are today, the last best hope of man on Earth.”
America's Wounded Warriors and Their Stories
Marine Sgt. Jeremy Boutwell fought for four years to recover from serious injuries sustained in Iraq, and then for the opportunity to re-enlist and return to Iraq.
Wounded Warrior Army Major David Rozelle was one of the first amputees to be returned to combat duty. After losing a foot in Iraq, Major Rozelle demonstrated his determination to serve his country by completing his rehabilitation, re-qualifying for active duty, and returning to Iraq as commander of an armored cavalry unit only one year later.
Army Sgt. Mary Dague, 23, and her husband, Spc. Jared Tillery, 22, were married in a justice-of-the-peace ceremony shortly before leaving for Iraq together. While there, Jared's younger brother, a Marine, was killed, and then Mary lost both arms, amputated above the elbow. That's quite a burden for such a young couple to deal with, but Mary plans to request reassignment to her unit as soon as her rehabilitation with her prosthetic arms is complete. After all, she says, "I'm a bomb chick, I need to be there." And she's planning a "real wedding" after her rehab. Her positive attitude is nothing short of amazing.
The original CNN interview with Mary has been removed from YouTube, but we found this interview with her about a year after her injuries, when she received her service dog, Remy.
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