Sentinels of Freedom

sentinels of freedom In so many ways, the young men and women in our military who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are our Sentinels of Freedom…just like the men and women of fighting forces who have gone before them in other wars, they all stand up for all of us and fight for freedom and democracy around the world.  Without these brave warriors, there would be no General Motors, no Exxon, no Thanksgiving meals or no Fourth of July celebrations in the country we call our home, The United States of America.  And because our military medical technology has become so cutting edge, many of these warriors who died on the battlefield in previous wars are now making it home—many with severe injuries.  I would like to introduce you to an organization who understands that it is our responsibility as a nation to embrace these wounded veterans and assist in getting them back on the road to independence.  This organization is called Sentinels of Freedom and the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation.  From their “About Us” section of their website:

We believe it’s not just the governments responsibility to help our wounded and injured troops but each individual and corporation also has to look at their own responsibility in this national issue.

Since the beginning of this nation we have had men and women, young and old willing to stand up and protect our way of life through their selfless service in our Armed Forces.

They have grown up in our communities, gone to our schools, played on our ball fields, attended our churches. When they come home broken and bent we can do more that say ” It’s the governments responsibility”.

Any educated person can draw a direct line to our quality of life and that of those who serve us in our military. Simply put, it is an undeniable fact that without them we would not have a government, corporations, communities or the freedoms we enjoy today.

The VA and Military do an outstanding job but they simply can’t do what we can to assist those who have sacrificed for us when they return home. We bridge that gap.

Erin and Sam were introduced to the Sentinels of Freedom through the Marine Commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, of which Sam is still assigned. I’ve mentioned in previous blog post that we sometimes call Erin, “Dr. Erin”, because she has become so familiar with the doctor and nurse jargon that she can have a conversation with a  neuropsychologist and can translate to the rest of us what they said.  Since Sam’s injuries, Erin has mentioned many times how she has wanted to go into the medical field in order to help veterans like Sam.  I am very proud to say that Erin is now in her second semester (junior year) in the speech pathology and audiology program at Sacramento State University.  She would like to get her bachelor’s degree and also go to grad school and get her master’s in speech pathology.  Erin’s schooling is being sponsored by the Sentinels of Freedom who are paying for her tuition, books and even her rent.  I haven’t seen a more dedicated and motivated student—as can be seen by her 4.0 grade point average from last semester.

2_7_2011_Uncle Sam loves his niece Holly As for Sam, he is very healthy and is still making some small improvements.  There was a little accident in mid January while he was in physical therapy using the standing frame.  The therapist and Erin noticed Sam, who never complains of pain, was indeed making some grimaces like he was hurting while they had him in a standing position.  They asked him to rate his pain, 1 to 10, and he said it was a 9 out of 10!  It turns out that due to low bone density, Sam actually broke a bone in his foot.  He is currently in a boot and taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.  They are also taking him outside to get more sun during the day.  He is working on the tilt table five days a week to help strengthen his bones and also has an appointment in eight weeks to get his foot rechecked at the Mather VA Hospital.

Other significant improvements since my last blog post—Sam’s vision has improved significantly.  He is able to complete more complex vision therapy task.  His concentration in all aspects of his physical, vision and occupational therapy have really improved which has led to greater strides overall in Sam’s physical and mental well being.

A good side affect of the foot breaking incident was that the drug he was taking, Vicodin, which normally can make a person drowsy, actually relaxed his muscles more and allowed him to speak much more clearly and more often.  His doctor is working with prescribing him Adivan which should have the same affect as the Vicodin and allow his throat to relax, making it easier for him to speak.


14 Responses to Sentinels of Freedom

  1. Barbara says:

    I was so happy to get the update today on Sam, and send you all blessings on this Sunday, a cold, snowy day in Maine where Sam once passed through and met the Troop Greeters. Not hearing for a while, and seeing no updates to the blog, I was concerned. Sam is so blessed to have so much love around him, family, friends, medical personnel, and God in his life working to continue his healing.

  2. Wendy says:

    Erin, we are so proud of you! You juggle time with Sam, school and your beautiful Neice Holly and time with your grandmother all very successfully. you are beautiful and we love you!

  3. Thomas says:

    Thank you for the update. There are many people praying for Sam that don’t know him but are touched by his story.

  4. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin, the Nichols and Neria Families –

    It’s been a while since I’ve written – please forgive the non communication! But please know that even though I haven’t written you are all in my thoughts and my prayers every single day. I hope and pray that Sam has been feeling well!! School must be almost done for you Erin – YOU ROCK!!! SOOOOO proud of you!!

    God bless you all. Please know and never forget that thoughts, prayers, support and loads of extra special Angel Hugs come your way every single day. And they always will.

    With love from RI,
    Kris – A Soldiers’ Angel

  5. Hi Sam, Erin, and family,
    We (Steve and I) were just watching the Memorial Day Concert in Washington D.C. That reminded us of you guys again. Just wanted to say hi and that we are praying for you. I’m glad to hear that you are going back to school Erin! You will make an amazing Speech Therapist! You will bless many people as you have us. God Bless you. Patty and Steve Huddleston

  6. Grammy Blick says:

    It’s been a while since I stopped by, but the young lady in our church who had a TBI in a car wreck years ago is now able to pedal a special tricycle around our church parking lot. It’s gotten so hot that she’s moved into the gym’s basketball court, though. Through Kara’s progress over the years, I’ve seen what might be a part of Sam’s future — surrounded by loving family and friends, constant labor for small progress, but always moving forward. May God continue to provide healing and strength.

  7. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin, the Nichols and Neria Families! Just stopping by to check on you all – I hope that Sam has been feeling well and has been continuing to kick butt on his journey. I’m positive that Erin KICKED BUTT in school!! Please know that thoughts, prayers, support and loads and loads of extra special Angel Hugs are always coming your way. And they always will be. God bless you all!! If I remember correctly Sam’s Alive Day will be coming up on the 24th – you will all be in my thoughts and my prayers in a very special way on that day. As will the fallen heroes of Kilo.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI (and Sam and Erin’s biggest fan!! :-D)

  8. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to leave a note yesterday but I was not near a computer! You were all in my thoughts and my prayers in a very special way yesterday, September 11, 2011. It was a day of deep reflection, a day of tears and a day that serves as yet another reminder of what you have all done and given to me, my family and to this great country.

    Your service and support has meant that we have lived for 10 years without another attack on our soil. Your service and support has kept us safe, and has allowed us to live our lives enjoying the Freedom that you have earned for us. Your service and support has made it possible to have our sweet, precious Freedom in the first place. It was a day that served as yet another reminder that this precious Freedom is so expensive. So expensive that it is impossible to ever put a simple dollar amount on. And for everything that you have done, given and sacrificed for my freedom, it would be impossible to ever be able to thank you enough. The words just seem so cheap in comparison.

    God bless you Sam, Erin, and the Nichols and Neria families. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Each and every day there are thoughts, prayers, support and extra special loads of Angel Hugs coming all of your way, and they always will.

    With love,
    Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI (and your BIGGEST fan!!! :))

    • Tony Neria says:

      Thank you to our special angel!!! Sam moved his left arm a little bit last week in therapy. First time doing it by himself. Four years into his injury and he is still having little victories…

      With love back…

  9. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Dear Sam – just wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts and my prayers in a very special way today, Veteran’s Day. I am eternally grateful for your brave service, for everything that you have done, given, sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for this great country. For our sweet precious Freedom. For were it not for you and brave heroes like you, this great country could never, would never be!!! And to the Nichols and Neria families, a special THANK YOU to you too!! The families of our brave are in fact the backbone of this country – a job that is so important, and one that I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is. God bless you all, God bless all of our heroes past and present, God bless America!!

    I hope this finds you all doing well – I am so excited to read about the latest victory!!! Praise God!!! There are always thoughts, prayers, support and loads of extra special Angel Hugs coming ALL of your way, and they ALWAYS will be!!

    With love,
    Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI (and yeah, your BIGGEST fan!!! :D)

  10. Patti Kjenstad says:

    Thinking of YOU…aTrue HERO…especially today. THANK YOU, THANK YOU so very much!! We’re still cheering for You and keeping You, Erin and your Families in our prayers always. God Bless you all!!
    The Kjenstad Family

  11. Kris says:

    Hi Sam, Erin, and the Nichols and Neria families! Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written – was a crazy holiday season! Got 1/2 my Christmas cards out and next thing I know it’s February! Good grief! Anyway I hope this finds you all doing well, and Sam still healthy, making great progress towards showing the world his (and His!!) healing!! Hope that 2012 is a blessed year for you all. God bless you!! Thoughts, prayers, support and extra special Angel Hugs are ALWAYS on their way to you all!!

    With love,
    Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  12. Carol T says:

    Does anyone know the where abouts of Sam and Erin I continue to pray for them even though it has been a long time since any updates. Perhaps the page was moved if anyone has any information it would be great. Thanks Caro T

  13. Patti Kjenstad says:

    God Bless you Sgt. Sam, Erin and your Families today!! Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers daily! Love and Big Hugs from the Kjenstad Family

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