America’s Heroes at Work

image The U.S. Labor Department just recently launched a web site called America’s Heroes at Work to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The web site is a collaborative effort with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.  These three government agencies are working together in this effort to help veterans with TBI or PTSD transition back into the civilian workforce and local communities.

America’s Heroes at Work provides various resources, including fact sheets, reference guides and training tools to help employers integrate veterans with TBI and PTSD into the workplace.  To read more about this new service click here.

Sam’s medical status:
Courage, Honor, and Commitment are the buzz words belonging to the credo of The United States Marines. They are not idly adhered to; but taken very seriously as a way of life, standards by which they comport themselves, and to be a shining example to the nation. The Marines that practice and live by these words command our respect, our admiration, and even our love. And why not? These words are, and when implemented in the correct fashion, represent gifts from God to men. Scriptures are full of stories of courageous and honorable men and women. I don’t believe any thinking person would disagree that Sam and Erin display an incredible amount of courage and do it very honorably. Today I’d like to give you some observations about commitment that I’ve witnessed over the past year, few months, and just this last Saturday…

sam and frodo_lord of the rings I recently watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and especially “The Return of the King”. As you may remember, Frodo showed an amazing amount of courage and undaunting and incorruptible character in his quest to save the world from the impending evil. BUT, I’m afraid Frodo would have never made it without the love and commitment of his good friend Sam; (Yeah, the name cinched it for me) even evidenced by Sam carrying Frodo up the mountain in his last stretch of the quest. What powerful dedication to his friend and neighbor. What love exhibited on his many months long journey to his companion…Well, I submit to you a real life Lord of the Rings story and that is Sam and Erin.

Sam’s injuries were and are severe. So severe in fact that other people in similar circumstances gave up hope and retreated from the battles that lay ahead. Sam does fight the battles daily. It is an uphill climb, no an up-mountain climb everyday of his recovery. His current challenge is a series of focal seizures that plague and interfere with his rehab time, thereby slowing his progress. The doctors don’t seem overly concerned by this, although any seizure of the brain is serious and must be researched to it’s fullest extent. This finds Sam in the neurology department at the University of San Francisco Medical Center. An excellent hospital with a great reputation for it’s specialty departments. He is monitored with a 24 hour EEG, and is under constant observation by video. The picture is of Sam with several Sam in USF med center for EEG_8_23_08 electrodes literally glued to his head and face. Erin said the epoxy that they use burns a little when applied. He is also under the standard protocol of oxygen while he is there. Erin was reading him some of the questions on the hospital admission forms and one of them went like this. “Have you been hurt physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially by anyone in the past 6 months? Sam replied, Yeah! When Erin asked by whom, he replied, “By that guy!”, referring to the tech that was applying the electrodes. Ha! This is how Sam faces his challenges. With courage, dignity, and a little humor thrown in for good measure. I believe strongly that God has him in San Francisco for a great reason and it can only be a good one. Nothing can separate Sam from God’s love so this hurdle will be like all the others.

Even though Sam confronts all tasks with all the boldness of being a Marine; now he must rely on another (just as Frodo did) and that’s Erin. She is the one who pushes him to excel in his physical therapy, encourages him and reminds him when his memory fails him, and even carries him when he just can’t make the last few steps to a goal. Erin was trying to get Sam to exclaim some faith and asked him who was healing him…He said “You are”…and although she was trying to get Sam to give God the credit, she just didn’t realize how accurate he was. There is no doubt in my mind that Erin’s steadfastness to Sam is a direct pipeline, and tapped into the Lord most High. I’m not even sure a person is capable of that kind of commitment without the strength and power coming for God himself. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. My boys have already pointed out my similarity to Gandolph, The Gray in those movies. For those of you that know me, I’ve been gray for many years. Ha!

Donny visited last week right before Sam went to SF…he had been drinking a Dr Pepper in a plastic bottle and had a little bit left when he got there. He gave Sam the bottle to play with and Sam wanted to drink the remainder of the soda. Donny removed the cap and Sam downed the last few drops. He wanted it all and squeezed the plastic of the bottle to move those last few drops around and get them. The RN on duty was very excited and calculated at least 7 different cognitive moves. She hadn’t seen him in a while and ran to record her observation.

Erin’s commitment to Sam is and will be legendary; and Sam’s commitment to her is also apparent. Erin asked him recently why he works so hard in physical therapy, even when he didn’t feel well? His answer is priceless…”Because I love you so much”!

Much love,

“I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind, and I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.”

Sam Gamgee – The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings)


5 Responses to America’s Heroes at Work

  1. Steve Marquez says:

    “Have you been hurt physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially by anyone in the past 6 months? Sam replied, Yeah! When Erin asked by whom, he replied, “By that guy!”…lol Thats Sam for you love you guys!

  2. Lori Peoria says:

    Erin, you are a Semper Fi girl! Keep pushing that Marine!

  3. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin & Families!

    Stopping on by to let you all know that you are always in my thoughts and my prayers. And that you always will be!

    The commitment between Erin and Sam is truly legendary – Eric you nailed that one right on the head! It really is amazing to watch them, even from this far away. Erin, you truly are a remarkable and amazing woman. I think I might have said sometime before that I believe you’re superhuman! The words “I’m not even sure a person is capable of that kind of commitment without the strength and power coming for God himself” are I think what I was trying to say when I said “superhuman” – Eric you said it much more eloquently than I did! 🙂

    Sam & Erin, you are gifts from God and you are doing His work every single day. Without even trying, you spread your love and the love of God himself clear across this great Land of ours. You guys are going to make it. Sam, you’re going to be fully restored. You will overcome each challenge and kick it’s butt. There is no doubt in my mind. No one could ever tell me anything different!

    God bless you Sam, Erin and your families. Thanks so much for allowing us to travel this journey with you. You’re spreading the word of God with each step that you take, and I thank you for that. Thoughts, prayers, support and load upon load of Angel Hugs are on their way to you – each and every day!! Hugs to you all and I hope you all have a great long weekend.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  4. Wendy says:

    Erin & Sam,
    I am new to your site and words are not enough to express the depth of gratitude I have for you both: who you are, what you have been through thus far, what you fight for on a daily basis, how you press onward. The depth and width of my faith is increased from my short visit with you……you are such a wonderfully, miraculously, amazing testimony of love and strength and courage. My heart overflows as I read your spectacular journey. Thank you both so much for being the heroes that you are..,.and for allowing me a window into your beautiful lives.
    Sam, I am sorry for the EEG, for the struggles, for the pain, the discomforts and the frustration you go through. I pray for your peace and comfort right now as you read this message, that you are able to sense God’s love and His Spirit with you. I must tell you I have such a deep respect and admiration for who you are- words are just too simple to express what a tremendous icon you are of faith, hope and love. You truely amaze me with your progress, as I am a registered nurse and have worked in intensive care units., I have seen TBI. In the natural, you have beat the odds, buddy and I am so proud of you!
    Erin, what a beautiful expression of love and faithfulness you are. Your strength and committment are surreal. Are you taking notes, girl? I believe you will submit a book to be published one day… a book that will help strengthen marriages, restore hope, deepen faith and lead more people to know the Lord.. It’s the blood of the lamb and the words of your testimony that will win others over to the love of Christ (Revelations). So if you haven’t realized this already, you might want to grab a pencil and a notebook and start journaling. I pray for you, that God would be a continual River of Love, Faith, Hope, Strength and Healing for you.
    I will visit with you again, if you don’t mind. I would also like to share your beautiful testimony with my friends of faith, if it is ok, who I know will pray for you. I pray fresh encouragement and strength for you both, that you would not be distracted or discouraged by the setbacks of seizures. You see, we know the Great Physician, and I pray for wisdom and revelation for the physicians and nurses who are treating you. God bless you both and thank you again, May God’s mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you today.–Wendy

  5. Holly Markiewicz says:

    The story about Sam squeezing the last drops of Dr Pepper out of the bottle was priceless!!!! I laughed out loud. I miss both of you guys so much.

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