Citizen Support for our Troops

america supports you

This weekend my wife Julie and I had the pleasure of visiting Sam and Erin at the VA Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto.  They are settling in very nicely at the VA Hospital.  As Eric mentioned in a previous blog, Sam is in a very spacious room that looks out at the Fisher House where Erin is staying.  The Fisher House is also very beautifully decorated and is such a blessing to the families of the wounded troops at the VA hospital.  I’m always so humbled by the organizations who come to the VA hospital to support the troops.  When Sam was in physical therapy a group of Air Force Reservist came in just to visit with Sam for a while and to let him know they appreciate the sacrifice he has made for his country.  Outside the newly completed dayroom at the Polytrauma Center, a group of volunteers from the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church were busy updating the landscaping in the courtyard outside.  Erin went on line and applied to get a specially adapted home built for her and Sam through  Homes for Our Troops and within 15 minutes of sending her application, she received a phone call from one of the volunteers in that organization telling her they received her application and looked forward to working with her. 

Besides keeping you updated on Sam and Erin, I’ve tried to use this blog as a way of highlighting all the wonderful organizations out there who are watching out for our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (many of them being veterans of Korea and Vietnam).  There is a Department of Defense website called America Supports You that list many different ways we can support our troops.  The website list ways to donate to support organizations, phone cards, care packages, help for the wounded, military family support, and on and on.  Please take some time to look over their website.   You may be inspired to donate or even volunteer your time to one of these worthy organizations. 

Beyond Manners & Etiquette: 
Sam and Erin smiling pretty_Palo Alto_4_25_2009 During a recent physical therapy session that Sam was involved in; another young patient with a frontal brain injury, playfully pulled the pony tail of the physical therapist that was administering Sam’s exercise. This young man was child like and meant no disrespect, but I could see the exasperation from the therapist as she gently, but firmly had to rebuke his inappropriate behavior. The young man had the presence of mind to apologize, but left rather rejected just the same. As Erin and I discussed the incident, we began to discuss Sam’s behavior around the therapists. I believe he is humbled by the amount of care that he must be given. At Wednesday’s P.T. session, they were still laughing about Tuesday’s hour of therapy. When Sam is moved from the chair to the mat or standing frame; he leans his head forward and puts his arm around the therapist (like a hug) so he can assist their muscling him into position. Tuesday as his arm came up around this tiny little Asian therapist, his hand became entangled in the short sleeve arm of her scrubs. As Sam tried to free his hand, he began to  tickle her, but since she was bearing a lot of his weight, she couldn’t do anything until he was seated. They laughingly told this story as they were preparing to move him so Sam was listening. The same little therapist was on duty, so Sam made a wide arc with his arm to ensure getting it on her back. He then gave her a little rub on her back to say thanks for all that you do. Erin says that he does that with the female therapists and for the gentlemen, he pats their back with a little more vigor. Even in this condition and state, I am so proud of the fact that he takes the time to aS&E Sitting Up Exercises_4_22_2009appreciate the people that work so diligently for him. Erin and I sat and spoke of him and his impeccable manners. He has always had them. Tony & Julie recognized it since the very first time they met Sam; complimenting him by saying he was a throwback to the 50’s. Sam and his brothers were always very much people oriented and compassionate; but since Sam reached adulthood, he blossomed into something much more. Erin uses the word chivalrous. I am not sure if it was the Marine Corps or something else that spurred that final transformation, but it must be true as so many have commented on it. Sam impressed a friend of mine the first time she had met him. He rose when she entered the room, introduced himself and Erin, and then would not sit down again until she was comfortably seated first. I would love to take credit for this remarkable behavior from all of my sons; but I just can’t in all good conscience. I believe that charisma that they all enjoy is a gift from God and a spirit of hospitality. If you are naturally well liked by all you come in contact with; then how much simpler is it to become the leader of people that we all know that Sam is?

Sam&ErinSpeechTherapy_4_22_2009 I wanted to include a few pictures to show and remind you all of Erin’s active involvement in all of Sam’s therapy. The first pic is of Sam practicing to sit up and to strengthen his lower back and core. Erin sits or lies directly in front of his face for motivation and encouragement. I’ve spoken in the past about her "kissing therapy" which still produces more results than any other. In fact, some teachers have incorporated it into their curriculum. The next picture is of Erin, Sam, and his speech pathologist as they practice swallowing response, word and phrase generation, and the like. If you look hard, you’ll see a watch supplied by his vision therapist. A conventional watch to look at, but it also has two buttons on it that will vocally tell you the time, day of the week, date, month, and year. She was asking Sam what year it was, and instead of answering verbally, he flashed 5 fingers and then 4 more to equal ’09…they are always tickled by his ingenuity. One evening Erin sent me a text to say that after their "good-night prayer", Erin asked Sam if "he was going to be better tomorrow?" He said "Yes", and then she asked "how much better?" His response is priceless to me is he said, "All the way"….Bravo Sam and Erin; That is the kind of faith statement that is going to propel him out of that place on his own 2 good legs. Erin reports that Sam may be suffering from allergies, as he is running a low grade temperature, but NO infection. She also reports that their insurance company has denied the bid to come to Granite Bay which is only 15 minutes from our house. It has to do with the VA and certifications, etc…, but God can easily intervene if that is the best place for Sam. Will you join me in that prayer for this week and that is to have God send him wherever he will have him…

Much love,


8 Responses to Citizen Support for our Troops

  1. Carol & Dave T says:

    We pray for all of you daily but this week we will join in special prayer that God will open the doors for the best place for Sam. Insurance companies seem to say NO first and then when you knock a few more times things can change. (that statement is from experience)Sam keep working & believing, Erin keep encouraging and know you have a large cheering section.

  2. And we have not forgotten, either; God is in control, and He has Sam and the plan in His hands. Keep the Faith, and know that we are still praying; thank you Sam for your service; hang in ther brother, and thanks to you Erin for your diligence; if all women could love their husbands like you do. there would be no divorce, because the men could not keep from loving their wives back with the same unfailing love. God Bless you, young lady!!

  3. Lisa Hall says:

    I will definitely be praying for Sam & Erin, that God will work wonders and bring them back close to their home and bring continued healing to Sam.
    I am always uplifted and encouraged by these posts about Sam and Erin.
    What a wonderful, loving couple!
    God Bless Them both!

  4. Lori Peoria says:

    Sam is looking stronger in every picture I see and Erin is still as beautiful as ever! True, true love!

  5. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi everyone! Yet another heart warmer. Every time I read your updates my heart fills with love and Faith, and ok, I admit, my eyes fill up too 🙂 Sam & Erin, I hope you guys never tire of hearing how special you truly are, never tire of hearing about the Faith and Love that you exude, never tire of hearing that YOU GUYS ROCK!!

    Saying extra prayers this week that He sends Sam to the place that Sam needs the most. And as always there are thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special Angel Hugs coming your way. Each and every single day. And they always will. God bless you Sam & Erin & your wonderful families.

    PS the pics are AWESOME. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing them!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  6. Matthew & Erin Gonzalez says:

    Sam & Erin,
    Before our guys from Kilo left for Iraq for their last time, we had the privilege of spending time getting to know the two of you. My husband Matthew and I spend the last night before leaving for Iraq with you two at a fun little place near your house in Cali. You two were such wonderful hosts and I was so wishing we had known each other better, earlier! You are two of the most amazing people! Please know that you both have been in our prayers since the beginning. We are so pleased to hear the progress Sam has made. Erin, I am so amazed at the amount of courage and strength you possess. I pray that God continues to bless you both with healing and strength. God bless,
    Erin Gonzalez

    Hey there this is matt gonzalez now or gonzo. to tell you the truth i really do not know what to say. i know that when ever i was deployed i was never that intersted in telling what was going on where i was at i wanted to know what was going on with everyone else. so i guess i can tell you guys what has been going on with me. well we live in nebraska now and i go to the city college here until i transfer to the university of nebraska omaha. erin is going to have are first child in july a girl named dilyn. other then that not a whole lot. I have kept in touch with a few of the guys from kilo Ty ayers is back in evansville indiana he is working in a grocery store and also works at the post office. Robert gonzalez or the other gonzo is on the east coast finishing up his b billet and will be returning to a battery soon or maybe trying to go OCS or become an officer. Sam shult is back in utah and is going to school to be a firefighter but right now i think he might be an emt. Robert clanahan is still living in california up north somewhere and goes to school and works in a home depot i think. well that is all the up to dates that i have i have not spoken to them for a few months or more. Well i hope that this little info about a few of the guys sam knows might be interesting to you guys i just want you guys to know that erin an i will be praying for you both. sam and i were never real close but i care for you both and wish you guys well and sam i just want to thank you for always being good to me even though i wasnt the kind of person that was not liked by everyone. i think You people are a wonderful example of love and i hope god continues to bless you guys your friend and brother matt

  7. Clare Froggatt says:

    Hi Erin, WordPress did a link from your blog to mine so your situation has come to my attention. I only just took a little look at what you are facing. My blog is about my daughter Sam, here in Australia and she has ALL Leukemia. Like you we are facing a battle. Like you we have faith and know that God hears our prayers and moves on our behalf. The blog they linked to mine was dated September 2007. What a journey you are on! I am so relieved to see photos of 2009. Love and Prayers Clare

  8. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin & Families –

    Stopping by to let you all know that you continue to be in my thoughts and prayers each day. Hope that you’re doing great and feeling well these days, Sam!

    All of our fallen heroes will be respected, honored and remembered this Monday; with special thoughts and prayers to those of Kilo. All of our heroes, past and present will be in my prayers in a special way on Monday as well. Without the bravery, selflessness (and so many other qualities) of incredible individuals like yourself Sam, this great country could never and would never exist.

    Thank you Sam, Erin and your families for the immeasurable sacrifices that you have made and continue to make for this great country. Thank you so very much and God bless you.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

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