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.
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.