I was going to write a scathing email about the Berkeley city counsel supporting a group of misfits who are trying to get the Marine Corps recruiting station thrown out of their town but I would rather not even give them negative publicity because that is how they seem to operate. Instead, I would like to talk about positive people who are making a difference, even when tragedy strikes. Ok—just a few words about the Berkeley issue just to defend the honor of the good people of that town. The parents of a very dear friend of mine have donated a substantial amount of money to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in honor of Sam. So lets not put all the people who live in Berkeley in the same “crazy pot” as their city counsel and the misfit group.
Sam’s medical status: The picture in this blog post is from January 29th of this year. Erin sent it to us from her cell phone. The significance of the picture is that, with little assistance, Sam is sitting on a therapy table holding his trunk up by himself. Everyday he continues to get stronger and needs less and less assistance to keep himself upright.
Erin didn’t get a chance to go to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital last week, but she is scheduled to visit them tomorrow. Although this hospital isn’t certified by the VA (which takes about 6 months to complete) she said the VA will allow for direct billing. So there is no worry about Sam not being able to be transferred when all are ready. Erin still thinks the move to Kentfield could possibly happen this month.
Sam continues to improve in the auditory front. His swallowing and tongue movement continue to get better. Although he still isn’t speaking, he continues to score very high marks when asked questions.
Sam is improving at working with the peg board via finger and arm manipulation. When I saw him work the peg board for the first time, he was very sluggish and just barely moving the pegs (this was on December 25th). Today Erin told me he is getting so good at moving the pegs on the board, that they have moved him to a board with smaller pegs. The time it takes him to move the pegs is also improving dramatically.
They are also seeing some improvement with Sam’s right leg in his physical therapy session. He has been kicking his leg out on command when in a sitting position (at least his right leg).
In the overall cognitive front, Sam continues to impress everyone. Erin said when she was wheeling him down to the dayroom and past the nurses station, all the nurses said hi to him and he waved back…he even smiled at them as he went by. As they stroll down the hallways, all the medical staff say hi to Sam and he waves and follows them with his eyes. He has become very popular since he has been able to get out of his room…must be those beautiful blue eyes!
Inspiration of a fallen Marine: There was a very moving article in the Sacramento Bee today about a local Marine from Auburn who was killed in July of 2007, very close to the same time Sam was injured. The Marine’s name is Sean Stokes and his father, Gary Stokes, has honored his son’s life by creating the Sean Andrew Stokes Memorial Organization (SASMO). The organization was established to help the surviving families deal with PTSD and other issues related to veterans issues or the death of their war hero. If you feel moved by his story, please go to their donations tab which will explain how you can help support their cause.
As I was looking through the SASMO web site, I was really impressed by their philosophy concerning our countries involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is so easy to take a negative opinion and blame the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who are serving their country (e.g. the Berkeley city counsel) . If I run across a person like this, I always remind them if it weren’t for the young men and women who volunteer to serve and die for their country at this time in our history, there would be a draft and they, their children or grandchildren may be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan instead.
Here is a quote from the SASM web site:
*SASMO believes that our soldiers, who have volunteered to answer our country’s call to serve overseas, who follow the decisions of the policy-makers without question and are willing to give their lives in that pursuit, should all be defined as heroes. Other people may have different opinions about this and they are welcome to their opinions, but what is more heroic than giving your life for the something that has been agreed upon, by the majority of those who decide policy, for the greater good of the country? We believe that these fallen heroes should be honored, and not ever forgotten, by all–whose lives have been enriched and benefited from the freedom gained through the sacrifices these heroes have made. We also believe that the surviving families should be supported, as their sacrifices are life-long and unending. They, too, have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country; the sacrifice of losing a loved one whom they will miss for the rest of their lives…
Please continue reading the rest of the quote on their web site. It is a very compelling and thorough explanation of the rational behind one’s decision to join the military. It also helps us all to understand why, when you look at the picture of Sam at the top of this blog, you are in fact, looking at the face of a hero. This is the face of a young man that has volunteered to defend his country. This is the face of a young man who would gladly give his life to defend the free speech of the Berkeley city counsel and the organization that is trying to kick the Marine Corps recruiting station out of their town.