Nevada Warrior

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Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 4.55.33 PMSGT Timothy Hall, from Hawthorne, NV received his specially adapted home on March 30th, 2013. He wants to thank past supporters and donors for giving him the gift of freedom and independence. “I am happy to pass his thanks along,” and remind people of how important it is to contribute to the effort to help our veterans that have sacrificed so much for us.

Here is a piece of this warriors story. 

Army SGT Tim Hall was 6 months into his 1st deployment when he lost both of his legs as the result of a mortar attack while at his Forward Operating Base in the Logar Province of Afghanistan on June 10, 2010. Standing in line at the PX (Post Exchange) at FOB Shank, SGT Hall was waiting to purchase some items when a mortar attack threw him into the air, critically injuring the 20 year old from Hawthorne, Nevada.

A Communications Signal Support Systems Specialist, SGT Hall’s legs required amputation the following day due to the severity of his injuries; his right leg amputated at the hip and his left leg amputated at the thigh. Initially treated at Bagram Air Base, Tim was airlifted to Landstuhl, Germany where he spent nearly a week being stabilized for transfer to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC on June 18, 2010.

SGT Hall has endured more than sixty surgeries to date, and received ongoing treatment  at the newly renamed Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

SGT Hall would like to thank all of the donors and volunteers who made his specially adapted home from Homes for Our Troops a reality. He is now  living in a specially-adapted home that  provides him with a safe environment that is based specifically around his adaptive needs. He says,

“I cannot say thank you enough for everything that is being done for me. Thank you for caring enough to make a difference.”

Soldiers Sent

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There are many more important numbers than the 10,000 miles I am riding throughout America. And as important as these numbers are, they are difficult to find. The reason, according to “Forbes” and “The International Business Times” is as follows. “In March 2013 the VA abruptly stopped releasing statistics on non-fatal war casualties. But previously it was reported that more than 900,000 service men and women have been treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics, since returning from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the monthly rate of new patients to these facilities as of the end of 2012 was around 10,000. Beyond that, the picture gets murky. “

I have now completed more than 6,300 miles on my journey throughout America. I have spoken to people from every walk of life, every economic class and every political position. My conversations have been in parking lots, restaurants, bars, gas stations, roadside food stands and on the streets of towns of every size. And I have concluded that “Our American Flag”  has been hijacked.

In talking to Americans, “Our Flag” the “Flag Of The People” in many cases has become the flag of politics. The “Flag Of Our Country” can still be found in the hearts of the American people. One on one my discussions with people always lead to a common position when it comes to our veterans.

“If we send them…take care of them.” In my listening to “the people” I am sometimes asked what I think about the sending of the troops and what president is right, wrong or to blame for the current situation.” My answer, which has been forged by the miles I ride alone, recognizes that the discussion of our politics has nothing to do with our responsibility to serve those who have served us and sacrificed so much.

“If we send them…take care of them.”

 I believe that we cannot wave the flag…and let a flag of politics blind us from waving the flag of the people, “The Flag Of Our Country.” In a past divisive time President Lincoln on March 4, 1865, a time of great uneasiness gave a speech to thousands of people gathered near the capitol.

President Lincoln turned from the divisive bitterness at the War’s roots to the unifying task of reconciliation and reconstruction. In the speech’s final paragraph, the president delivered his prescription for the nation’s recovery:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right asGod gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in,to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

“If we send them…take care of them.”

 So what are those most important numbers that I referred to at the beginning of this post? I have listed them below for you to read. I have included them in what I write so you can internalize the reality of the burden that I believe we should all accept responsibility for. Not the responsibility of the politics or the discussion of should we have sent our troops or not. I only ask that you consider the words of President Lincoln and the wisdom of the American people that I listen to each mile that I ride.  I believe, everyone who does something to help our veterans is a waving of the flag of the people…the “Flag Of Our Country.”

The numbers as available…and are changing daily.

Since 2001, in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, over 6827 American military personnel have been killed in action in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Overall, 270,00 servicemen and women have suffered traumatic brain injury on the battlefield or elsewhere, including 3,949 with penetrating head wounds and 44,610 with severe or moderate brain injury.

Among the combat wounded from all the military services are 1,572 patients with major limb amputations, including 486 wounded troops with multiple amputations.

2,542 servicemen and women have suffered traumatic burns; 142 have lost at least one eye, and five lost both eyes in combat.

PTSD, reached 300,000 several years ago and is probably much higher now.

 

 

 

A Child Calling

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Getting on my motorcycle in Portland, I began to think about my meeting in Tacoma the following day.I would be meeting Brian and Sharon for lunch.

The reason for our meeting began in 2006. That was Brian’s first deployment as a combat medic in Iraq. During this tour he was involved in 3 separate IED (improvised explosive device) incidents. IED, three letters that I am sure we are all familiar with thanks to our favorite news channel. But Brian’s understanding came as a result of the shocks his brain suffered as a result of the explosions. Being a medic, Brian knew how to answer the medical examination questions given to evaluate his ability to return to combat. Brian said, “ I use to give these test, so I knew the answers.” Brian was determined to continue his service.

I arrived in Tacoma and rode over to the restaurant that Sharon had suggested meeting at. I pulled into the parking lot and heard a voice call out, “Hey Richard you can park over here.” It was Brian. It seems that he and Sharon arrived at about the same time that I did. So I parked the bike and went through the usual process of turning off the engine, taking off my helmet and grabbing the tank bag to take along with me.Brian smiled and said hello and I immediately saw the eyes of a warrior. Someone who had not seen war but had “been at war.”

We talked as we walked over to the restaurant, went inside and joined Sharon and their son Sean at the table. After sitting for just a few minutes, I felt comfortable and knew these were special people. Brian and Sharon had an obvious “connection.” They both were more than a loving relationship; they were a “Team.” And it became evident as our discussions went on that this “Team” had clear priorities and was focused on making each day a positive step forward.

After ordering our lunch, I asked Brian about the injuries he sustained during his second deployment, this time to Afghanistan. Brian paused and said, “I was riding in an armored Stryker vehicle.” I asked when that was and Sharon added, “March 22nd, 2010.” Brian told me it was a mission that he was not supposed to be on. It seems that another SGT. scheduled to go home in 4 days, stayed behind, and told Brian that he would be going on the mission instead.The mission that day and the chance decision that Brian would be seated in the commanders hatch, rather than the drivers seat, would change the course of Brian’s life with one sudden explosion.

One IED. One Sudden explosion.

At first Brian didn’t know what happened. Brian was strapped in and remembers trying to get out of the vehicle. This effort, while not successful, did reveal to Brian that he could not move his legs.

Brian said to me, “I was the patient and the medic at the same time.”  I was going through my head, checking my ability to move and had no movement in my legs.” At this point the driver of the vehicle was cutting the straps that held Brian in, so he could be removed and given medical attention.The injuries were overwhelming. Brian had  injured both legs, had severely fractured his pelvis, snapped his tailbone in half and had sustained internal injuries.

Brian barley hung on to consciousness. Next he was on a helicopter. Then the helicopter landed and Brian told me, “ I was being carried to the medical tent, a tent that I had carried so many other wounded to in the past. “ Brian then added, “the tent was open at the entrance, dark inside and it was open at the other end exposing the daylight. “ Brian then described it to me as, “the light at the end of the tunnel.” He went on to say that he must have passed out at that point.” Sharon then said to me that Brian “bled out, he had lost 8 liters of blood.”

Brian’s next memory was 7 days later in Walter Reed Medical Center with his father and brother at his bedside.

Brian’s injuries resulted in the amputation of his left leg below the knee, severe damage to his right foot that may still result in its amputation , a fused pelvis, the implantation of two metal rods in the left hip, one in the right hip and 2 metal rods down the spine.

I said earlier that these were two special people. Two people connected. Sharon is a woman in love, a woman that met Brian after everything happened that I have just described. Sharon’s connection to Brian can easily be seen. It’s in the way she looks at him, in the way she champion’s his medical care and in her sensitivity to his emotional challenges.

So I have told you about the “American Warrior.” I have described the combat medic and the horrific injuries he sustained. I have related the bravery of a soldier. But I have not told you about the Brian that carries the war like a movie in his head. The Brian that is heart broken over the suffering of others, not his own.

At one point towards the end of our time together Brian closed his eyes and began describing in detail driving through the villages in Afghanistan. He spoke in detail about the buildings and their worn colors. He described the smells as he drove past asphalt pits. And Brian described the “Child.”

Brian, with eyes closed , told me about  the movie that he was watching.“I was on patrol in the marketplace of a small village when there was an explosion. People are in a panic…running …confusion and fear. I ran to the scene and a mother was lying on the ground, dead from her wounds. Lying on the ground next to her was a baby. I went to the baby and examined her. She had cuts and bruises but nothing that was life threating. I picked her up and held her in my arms. “I was so relieved that I could comfort her.” I looked around and saw an old man from the village. I walked over with this innocent child and handed her to the man. I was sure that the child was now safe again. Now removed from the horrors of war. The old man took her from me and then did the unthinkable. He held up the child by one leg. She was now upside down and her terror returned. The market place was filled with the sound of her crying. The old man then motioned a woman over and handed the child over. The woman and child then disappeared into the crowed. In an instant I realized the ugliness of the situation’s truth. This child had survived only to become a burden for the village. She had survived death only to now endure a life of suffering. This innocent child’s crying will be a continual calling out for love.”

Listening to Brian, I didn’t notice that Sharon had moved over next to him and she was gently rubbing his back. I could tell that she had been here before. And was there for Brian.

I was overwhelmed by the realization that Brian’s terrible injuries and ongoing struggles both medically and emotionally, for him were nothing compared to the destruction of innocence. I came to meet Brian and Sharon to hear “their story.” Instead I heard a story of selflessness. I heard a story that demonstrated how each of us must grow past our own injuries. These “injuries” go unseen but they are real. They are the “invisible injuries” that make us focus on ourselves and lose sight of the needs of those around us.

Brian can close his eyes and “see.” He can “see” others pain and rise above his own. I can only hope that each mile that I ride, will give me the chance to tell Brian’s story. I can only hope that Brian’s strength and Sharon’s unselfish love will help all of us to see with eyes wide open.

Our lunch ended when a child at a nearby table began to cry. Brian said, I’m sorry but I need to go.”

 

Believe!

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GoalsWe have just broken the $12,000 mark! We are about half way to the goal of $25,000. And I am about half way on my journey throughout America! Thank you everyone for your support to date…Here’s to reaching the donation goal and my completing the mission.

Eyes And Spirit

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This journey that I am on was planned with a focus of helping raise donations and awareness for our most seriously wounded vets. While that remains the mission’s focus, my journey has led me to a very special place. This is a place of the heart. Our individual journey through life needs to be conducted with eyes and spirit open. If we do this we can see the otherwise unseen wonders that always surround us. I have been blessed with two days of heartfelt reconnection and new beginnings to an old and cherished friendship. I have been blessed with the guidance and wisdom of a very special person. I have been shown that life can only be defined by the character that we maintain and most importantly share with others. I have been given the insight of how valuable our “partner in life” can be. I have just spent two incredible days with two very special people. Each their own person and each a true partner to the other. God bless you Joe and Kathy.

Mt Hood

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UnknownMt Hood, Oregon. Seeing a great friend on Saturday and Sunday! Then service for my trusty BMW motorcycle and back on the road for our seriously wounded vets. Great day riding. It started with a chance meeting that I will post details about tomorrow. Everything happens for a reason. All we need to do is make sure that our hearts and minds remain open and listening.

Grand Hotel

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Lake_Hotel_MArriving at Yellowstone Park was quite a change. I thought that a couple of days of sightseeing would provide a little rest from the road and an opportunity to see some of the “wonders of America.”  The park, if you have not been there is big, I was told it is about 63 miles long and 54 miles wide. So once I reached the South entrance it was another hour of riding to reach my hotel. Inside Yellowstone the speed limit is 25 to 45 miles per hour depending on the area you are in. After riding through incredible  views, I turned off onto the road leading to the hotel. I made the last turn and was met by the spectacular “Lake Hotel.”  The hotel faces “Yellowstone Lake ” which is over 130 square miles. Big by anyone’s standards. This was quite a change of accommodations from what I have  been use to so far on the journey.  I pulled up in front, turned off the bike and pulled off my helmet.  The hotel guests gave me a pleasant smile as they past this sweaty individual decorated with various smashed bugs that offered a full range of colors. I went in and was was visually stuck by the enormous size of the  grand lobby.

Lake Hotel Interior web releaseIt seemed that my quest for rest and relaxation had reached it’s goal. I went through the usual process of checking in, credit card and license for identification. I was then asked if it was just me, I answered yes and then was asked how many keys did I need…one or two. After careful consideration and much thought, I opted for one key. The clerk accepted my choice and handed me the key along with a little folder with my room number on it. As she pushed the folder towards me she she looked around and then pointed to the room number and said in a hushed voice “this is your  room.” I always enjoy the “Cold War” spy drama of maintaing total room number security.

 

Now that I was checked in, the process of unloading the bike began. The procedure is always the same, find a luggage cart, roll it outside and remove each of the 3 metal cases from the bike. Next step unstrap the tie downs and remove the yellow dry bag. Once this is completed and the cart is loaded, it’s off to the room with the “secret number.”

Finally it’s time to relax. I had dinner at the lobby bar and enjoyed a few conversations. Of course I talked about my journey to create awareness and raise money to build specially adapted homes for our most seriously wounded vets. Dinner completed it was time to head back to the room for the night. I needed to be downstairs the following morning to join a bus tour of the park’s most interesting wonders. I signed up for this day in a bus since the roads in the park were not Motorcycle friendly for roadside stops. Most had no shoulder and the ones that did were usually banked downward and mostly gravel. So the bus it was. I am officially a tourist on a little vacation for the day!

The following morning I was down stairs and out front at the appointed hour. Camera in hand, I was ready for the air-conditioned tour of Yellowstone Park. The bus arrived and we all piled into a 1975 bus that was a sign that I had made the right choice for the day’s activity.

The tour was complete with visits to “Old Faithful,” the mud pots, and waterfalls. And of course there were the sightings of Bison, Elk and one lonely Moose.

After a long day as a tourist I was ready to return to the room. So I picked up a sandwich at the hotel deli and enjoyed a night of reading. The next day was going to be another little vacation day before leaving for Idaho. This content tourist fell asleep early, I guess as a result of my weeks on the road and the altitude change.

About 3:30 am a noise in the room woke me up. The room was dark and as I laid there, eyes open, listening for the noise. Again I heard it. It was like the sound of someone moving across the room.

At this point I sat up straight. I remember saying to myself it can’t be possible “you must be dreaming.” So I cleared my head and was now fully awake. The sound was now right beside my bed, I turned and looked and was terrified at what I saw. A shrouded figure was standing right next to my bed only about a foot away from me. I yelled and threw a desperate straight right at the intruder. I felt my fist pass through noticeably warm air. And at the exact same moment the figure disappeared. I was terrified.

 

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Apparition: a ghost or ghostlike image of a person …ghost, phantom, specter, spirit.

I was physically shaking. I turned on the lights. I did not sleep for the rest of the night.

Now I’m a person that does not think that an apparition is real. But this really happened. I was not asleep. I sat there in bed with all the lights on. Morning could not come soon enough.

The next day I was feeling completely stresses. Everything and everyone annoyed me. I couldn’t believe that my “vacation day” was going so terribly. Instead I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to get back on the motorcycle and ride.

That evening I was sitting at the hotel bar having dinner and a couple sat down next to me. After a few minutes we said hello to each other. They asked where I was from and if I was enjoying my vacation. I explained that I was not on vacation but on a solo motorcycle ride through out the country called “Long Road Home America.” They seemed interested so I gave them some more details about my effort to raise money to build specially adapted homes for our wounded warriors.

I don’t know why but I told them about my previous nights “bedside visitation.” They laughed and looked at each other and then back at me. Their expression was one of disbelief. It was shortly after that they excused themselves and left. I sat there for a few minutes and felt like I was in a completely wrong place. The bar and lobby area were filled with people, laughter and music. Everyone was on vacation, everyone but me. Yes, it’s true that I spent a day as a tourist. I did tell myself that I was on a little vacation from “the journey.” But ever since the appearance of the apparition in my room I only wanted to get on my motorcycle and ride.

It was at that moment that I realized that I do “believe” in apparitions. In the early Greek translations of the bible the definition of belief is not what it is today. Today in western culture we define “what we believe” to be “what is true or factual.” The Greek translation defined belief as “what you give your heart to.”

 What I give my heart to is this journey. What I give my heart to are the many wounded vets that can’t be forgotten. The apparition came to my room the previous night not to frighten me, but to remind me that there is work to be done, miles to be ridden and people to reach out to. This apparition represented the fallen and wounded that have sacrificed so much.

That visitation was real. Now I understood why no matter how much I tried the day after its appearance, I was not on vacation. I was not a distracted tourist.

The next morning as I was getting ready to leave the hotel and resume my riding, I saw the man that was part of the couple that I told my apparition story to. He gave me an uncomfortable look and asked if I had seen any more disappearing ghosts. I said no I had not. He began walking into the grand lobby of the hotel and looked back and said, “you don’t really believe that stuff do you?” Before I could answer, at the exact same moment, he vanished into the crowd of “vacationers.”

 

 

 

Idaho Warrior

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Each morning that I pack my motorcycle, put on my helmet and continue my journey, I am energized by another brave warrior. 

WHY I RIDE.

On June 18, 2011, Marine Corporal Phillip Baldwin was on his first deployment when he lost both legs and sustained injury to his left hand and right hip in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. While on a security patrol in Kajaki, Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Cpl Baldwin stepped on a pressure-plated IED, causing the traumatic amputation of both legs, severe internal injuries and 80 percent hearing loss.

After the explosion, a medic jumped into action and tied tourniquets on both legs immediately and loaded Cpl Baldwin for transport by Blackhawk evacuation, where he focused on his breathing and trying to remain conscious.  Cpl Baldwin was treated at Camp Bastion and then transported to Landstuhl, Germany. He was then transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and later to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego where he underwent extensive rehabilitation therapies for nearly two years. Cpl Baldwin’s brother, Bruce, has stayed with Phillip during his recovery. Both of Cpl Baldwin’s brothers Alan and Bruce also serve in the Marines.

Cpl Baldwin continues to be actively engaged in his community and often speaks at local elementary schools. In his spare time Phillip enjoys hunting, shooting, fishing and camping.  He looks forward to the freedom a mortgage-free and specially adapted home will bring, and spending quality time at home with his son and daughter. As a proud Marine Phillip says he has learned to adapt and overcome much in his life; he is grateful to Homes for Our Troops for ensuring that he will no longer have to adapt and overcome in his living spaces at home.

 

 

 

Ridgewood Patch

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Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 6.44.18 PMHere is a recent article on the Ridgewood Patch

 

A Ridgewood, New Jersey man is taking a 10,000 mile motorcycle journey around the continental U.S. to raise money and awareness for seriously injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Richard King, 65, has started his trek, which he named “Long Road Home America,” with the stated mission “to rally hometown America into ensuring that when disabled war veterans come home, a proper home awaits them.”

With a goal of $25,000, King’s fundraiser is directed toward providing “mortgage-free custom homes for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have suffered serious debilitating injuries,”  rapidcityjournal.com has reported.

He covers all of his own costs, so every cent raised goes directly to the charity, called Homes for Our Troops, which promises more than 90 cents of every $1 it receives is spent on veterans.

To see where King is currently and to read more, click here:  http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/chadron/motorcycle-ride-supports-wounded-veterans…

 

 

Illinois Newspaper

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