A Celebrity Send Off

March 25, 2009

Sam posing Kentfield parking lot_3_23_09 Sam and Erin are moved into their new homes in Palo Alto. Sam in the Polytrauma Unit at the VA hospital complex, and Erin, once again, at the Fisher House, just a stone’s throw from Sam’s room. (I’ll include their address) I was able to attend a small gathering in a conference room at the Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital where Sam and Erin have been in residence for the last year. It was a small and rather impromptu party to graduate Sam from their rehab program, and to send them off with much love and good wishes. No less than 3 doctors were in attendance (including Sam’s personal physicians), several of the nursing and technical therapies staff, and even many of the hospital administration staff came to pay their honor and respect to Sam and Erin. Their demonstration of love for Sam and Erin was moving, to the point where Wendy (my girlfriend) had to rise and leave the room to keep from blubbering. A doctor had taken many photographs of the staff and facility, and had the employees write a memento to Sam and Erin by their pictures. Sam and Erin have come a long way in the past year, and although I give all praise and glory to God for that progress; I do thank him for the wonderful people he used at Kentfield to accomplish his will for Sam and Erin.

I am still surprised by the favor that Sam and Erin enjoy wherever they go. Yes, they are an uncommon pair. Sam, a genuine war hero in every sense of the word; and Erin, an “uncommon hero” of immense magnitude for her dedication and love for Sam. This became more clear to me as I drove to work one morning. I leave for work at about 6 am every morning, and it is still very dark at that time. Many mornings I speak to Wendy over the phone, discussing our plans for the day, challenges we are facing, and of course to pray for things we are led to. This particular morning I was driving into a full Moon, and couldn’t help but comment to her of it’s silver color and intense glow of shimmering light. Remembering my 5th grade science, I commented that the Moon has no light of it’s own and is merely a reflector of the Sun’s power and light. Once I said that, this Bible verse popped into my head, which my brother had quoted to me, just a few days before. “But to you who fear my name, The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings…” Malachi 4: v 2…This is a reference to Jesus, and He, like the Sun, is the center of all life as we know it. Scripture says that we will have no need for the sun or moon in eternity, as God’s glory will provide that light and warmth. Anyway, I believe that Sam and Erin reflect the Sun’s (Son’s) light and that is why they continue to have such favor wherever they go. Sam with his dogged determination, cooperative spirit, and true desire to be restored, fuels Erin’s love and dedication, steadfast faithfulness, and humble but assertive attitude for Sam’s recovery. These are Godly traits, and you just can’t help but love the people that display them.

Mario Cart_Kentfield_3_23_09 Sam is such a stinker…where he gets that I’ll never know. (tee hee)…He loves to tease Erin and always has. When she would have to pee, he would gently press on her lower abdomen; just to annoy her. Last Friday as she was telling him that she would be right back from the restroom, that little mischievousness came forth and he raised his hand to gently press on her belly. Erin knew immediately what he was doing and burst into laughter as we all did when we were let into the joke. It is a break through when he does something from memory, even if it is something less than acceptable and nice…Ha! As I’ve reported before, Sam is doing better and better in navigating his electric wheelchair. It takes the coordination of a video gamer, and the focus and concentration of an athlete. I witnessed him drive it around the hospital, (with his co-pilot, Erin at his side) with only a few bumps and crashes. (See picture) The day was beautiful and as we sat outside and talked, I asked Sam to throw me a pose. This next shot was what he came up with.

Erin reports that She and Sam could be in Granite Bay (only about 15 minutes from us) in just a few months time, depending on his progress at the VA. They told her that Sam would only be at Kentfield for a few months and that turned into a year. The more he progresses, the longer the stay. It is a win/win scenario for Sam and for us. As he goes to Palo Alto, I wonder whose life will be touched by God using Sam and Erin this time? Have no worries, concerns, or anxieties, for Sam and Erin. They are in God’s hands, and He is calling the shots. They will be fine, PLEASE continue to remember them in your prayers…they are working!

Much love,

Before I forget, Sam’s new address is:

SGT Sam Nichols, USMC
Palo Alto Polytrama Center
3801 Miranda Ave 7D room 115
Palo Alto Ca. 94304-1290

I wanted to give a special thank you to the doctors and staff at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital in Marin.  I will write more about Erin and Sam’s experience at Kentfield in another blog entry, but I just wanted to quickly mention that the Nichols and Neria families are so grateful for the care you have shown Sam and Erin.  Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital is a wonderful place with an outstanding group of doctors and staff.

Peace and love to all,



Pentagon to spend $300M for study of TBI and PTSD

August 6, 2008

erin beaver creek wounded warrior project spa weekend_edited-1

Wounded Warrior Project:  The above picture was taken at The Charter Hotel at  Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Erin and 18 other wives of wounded Marines and Soldiers were invited to this weekend get-away by the Wounded Warrior Project.  As with the recent trip Erin took to the Brain Injury Association of American Caregivers Conference in Dallas/Ft Worth, all expenses for this trip were paid by the Wounded Warrior Project.  The picture above is a little small, so if you’re having trouble finding Erin, she is kneeling in the front row, third from the left.

Erin had a wonderful time in Beaver Creek.  She said she was really able to connect with all these girls and wishes she had more time to get to know more of them.  The girls were given facials, massages and participated in group therapy sessions.  When we texted Erin on Friday night, she said she was having a great time at the “pajama bunko” party.  One of the girls is going to start a MySpace page so that all of them can continue to stay connected.

If you are not already contributing to a charity that supports veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Project is a worthy cause.  They, along with the Marine Corps Semper Fi Foundation and Soldier’s Angeles were there waiting for Erin when she and Sam first arrived in Bethesda NNMC and they continue to be there for Sam and Erin and our whole family today.

DoD Research Funds for TBI and PTSD:  Wonderful news in the TBI research world.  The Pentagon is spending $300 million dollars for research related to TBI and PTSD.  This includes research on 20 different medications related to TBI.  When Erin was at the Brain Injury Association of America Caregivers Conference last week, she mentioned that many caregivers of non-military TBI patients we so thankful that the military TBI issues were giving all TBI research much needed publicity.  It’s estimated that 1.4 million Americans suffer from TBI each year—235,000 of those cases are serious enough to require hospital care (based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read more on this topic, see this article from USA Today.

Sam’s medical status:

Good Evening All,

Erin lent her expertise to the “Wounded Warrior Battalion’s” workshop in Denver this past weekend; so it was Kelley’s and my distinct pleasure to sit and visit with Sam. On Saturday, Kelley took some friends with her that were so excited to be there and pray for Sam. I got the impression they were from a Spanish speaking church and were elated to hear Sam use his voice to talk to Erin by phone. They were blessed, but were a blessing to Sam as well. If we could ask for another prayer this evening; Sam’s Uncle, Rick Hendricks, collapsed at work today and was unresponsive for several hours…We immediately had dozens and dozens of spirit filled believers praying for him and he regained consciousness this evening. Sam in his own voice, “gargled” out this prayer: “Heavenly Father, In Jesus name, we call Rick the healed of God.” They are doing tests tonight to determine the cause of the incident but we are believing the same power that moves Sam along will restore Rick as well.

Sam had a fantastic week full of therapy sessions and tests. He has 3 successive EEG’s and no sign of any seizure activity…He is off of the stronger anti-convulsants and just takes one mild one for now…He doesn’t seem to be displaying severe symptoms of any iSam in PT_Kentfield_08_03_08infections either so it is full steam ahead for progress again. The therapists are jazzed to see him back in the “work mode” as he breaks his own record daily for sitting up unassisted. The first picture is of Sam sitting to rebuild the muscles in his core…After a few minutes, he began to tip sideways and he said, “Oh S_ _t! Ha! Erin and the therapists roared…Can’t get all the Marine out of the boy…Ha! The other picture during Physical Therapy is Erin giving him ample reason to work hard. A kiss for motivation…If you look hard you can see the Anniversary ring that Sam gave Erin for their 5th wedding anniversary. Erin was the envy of the nursing staff and they all wanted to know from Sam where their ring was…Sam was hilarious playing to their requests…The last picture is of Erin throwing some jabs at Sam with Sam & Erin Kissing_Kentfield_8_4_08his night time mitten. It is used to keep him from pulling out essential tubes and such…He is getting very fast with his response time in blocking her…

The last two days he didn’t want the T.V. on at all…he wanted some  reading done for him; and seemed quite content to hear some stories…he listened intently and interacted on several occasions…at one point I looked at him and he seemed to be deep in thought so I asked him what he was thinking about? He threw up his hand as if to say nothing or I don’t know…To be funny, I said while you’re sitting there why don’t you solve world hSam & Erin Boxing_kentfield_8_4_2008unger? Without missing a beat he slowly raised his hand to his chin  and began to stroke it in a very thoughtful way…What a character…Yesterday when I arrived I mentioned that maybe we could call Donny later. In about 30 minutes he initiated a phone call by making glasses with his fingers to indicate “Donny” and then did the phone thing to his ear…Erin says that is big for him to initiate that by himself…today he tried to reach behind himself for the pull chain for the overhead light…I doubt if I could have come any closer…

In a two or three week period here we have many celebrations to enjoy with Sam and Erin. His “alive day” (July 24th); Their 5th wedding anniversary (July 27th); and now Sam’s 24th birthday on August 12th…Last year he turned 23 in a coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital’s intensive care unit. Look where God has led him in just one year…Can you see in your mind where he will be on his 25th b’day? I am stating unequivocally that he will be walking and talking perfectly by then…Let me just say a word about their anniversary…My sister said that if you think you are in touch with your emotions, just try and tell someone how you feel about them with out thinking about it in advance…you stumble, stammer, and usually crash and burn…I talked to Erin about their anniversary and tried to delicately find out how her feelings had either been changed or does she do what she does because their love was so perfect before the accident? She did not stutter or hesitate; she said they were best friends, had become closer before the events of last year, and they both had always put each other needs before their own…As I choked down the lump in my throat; I could see it…just as she described it…100% accurate; borne out by actions and not just words…That is how God works; and He is working through Erin…

Much Love,

The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008

May 5, 2008

There’s a new bill that was just referred to the Committee on Veterans Affairs by the Senate on 4/28/2008 called The Caring for Wounded Warriors Act of 2008 S.2921. There isn’t much information out on the bill as of yet, but it is endorsed by the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). The legislation was introduced to the Senate by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here is a summary of the bill:

A bill to require pilot programs on training and certification for family caregiver personal care attendants for veterans and members of the Armed Forces with traumatic brain injury, to require a pilot program on provision of respite care to such veterans and members, and for other purposes.

The bill sounds like a perfect fit for people like Erin. There are so many more wives and family members out there in the same situation. I’ll keep you updated on this legislation.

Photo_050308_005 Sam’s medical status: On Saturday my wife Julie and I went down to Kentfield to visit Sam and Erin. Sam has another bacterial infection which doesn’t seem to be too big of an issue. A little silver lining to this situation is that he’ll have his own room for a while. He’s now in room 118 if you’re thinking about visiting. The rooms are pretty small in this hospital, so now friends and family will have a little bit of elbow room when they visit. He also has to wear a mask when he’s out of the room so you may see some pictures of him with his face covered if he’s out of the room in his wheel chair.

The picture’s that I’m sharing with you today were taken on Saturday. Erin had just shaved Sam’s face. She handed him the brush and told him to brush his hair which he gladly did. I was very surprised at how well he moved it around his head. The only problem he had was moving the brush over to the far left side of his head.

In the other photo, Erin is talking to Sam and asking him to complete her sentences. I was standing about five or six feet away from him and actually heard very clearly some of the words he was saying. Other times, erin getting sam to say words_5_3_2008Erin had to get her ear right up next to his mouth to hear him—but, he is still doing so well.

Erin noticed something very interesting during all her question and answer sessions with Sam. It seems he has about a two year gap in his memory. For example he doesn’t remember that they bought a new car a few years back—He still thinks they have their truck. He also didn’t remember being promoted to Sergeant. The most interesting thing…he doesn’t remember how he got hurt. Erin said he thinks he was home when he got in his accident. I guess for now, it’s better that he doesn’t remember what really happened.

On Friday Erin sent me a photo from her cell phone of Sam taking a ride in a motorized wheel-chair. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the photo, but the next time he takes it out for a spin, I’ll have her send me another photo and I’ll post it in the FLICKR strip. This particular wheel chair didn’t have all the neck and back support that his regular wheel chair has, but Erin said he was doing really well keeping his neck and trunk upright. He also did pretty well at moving himself around after Erin gave him instructions. Another step towards independence!

Of course, my favorite part of the day was watching Erin kissing and hugging Sam. He’s pretty good at kissing her and now he can get his right arm around her and give her a really nice hug back. I wish I could bottle up the love these two share with each other. Regardless of Sam’s difficultly in speaking, there is no lack of communication between these two young people.

From Erin as of Tuesday May 6th:

As of today Sam is back in room 129. The bacteria that bought him a private room is gone and a new patient with a different bug came in today, kicking Sam back to his old room. It’s not bad, but he was able to rest a lot better without a roommate.

Sam had a very verbal day today. during his mid-day break, I asked him what he wanted to do and he said,”go to sleep.” I think this was the first phrase he said without repeating after me. I’ve started asking him open-ended questions instead of yes and no, and he’s really stepping it up. I’m able to understand more and more of what he’s saying, and his voice is coming out more and more. He sounds like a frog. he’s so cute.

Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 500

April 14, 2008

vietnam veterans of america chapter 500 emblem My wife gets a newsletter every month from the Vietnam Veterans of America Sacramento Valley – Chapter 500.  I mentioned in one of my first blogs that my wife is a military bugler and occasionally plays taps at military funerals.  She has also played on a few occasions at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown Sacramento for the annual “Reading of the Names” on Memorial Day. 

This organization has been very good to my family.  In December of last year, my wife and I were invited to their annual Christmas party.  At that time, the President of the VVA chapter, Ted Adams and the Executive Director, Mary Lou McNeill presented my wife and me with a check to help cover travel cost to visit Sam and Erin.  They also have a section in their newsletter and in their web site with updates on Sam’s medical progress. 

vietnam campaign ribbon I’ve always been so impressed with the people involved in the Sacramento VAA Chapter 500.  Both my wife and I were very humbled by their generosity and by their long term commitment to supporting ALL veterans of our military.  In their newsletter, there is a motto that really says it all:

Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.

Sam’s medical status:  Sam is settling back in at Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital.  He is starting to mouth words like he did before getting so sick.  He’s also going to be getting a larger dose of bromocriptine, so hopefully he will be progressing quickly in his speech therapy this week.  For the most part, Erin can say a word and he will repeat it. 

Sam's haircut at Kentfield_4_10_08 Even though Sam wasn’t up to par last week, He did well in physical therapy.  On Thursday he was able to sit at the edge of the therapy bench for 23 seconds without support from anyone.  He was also up in his wheel chair from around 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.  Both his trunk and neck strength continue to improve.

Either this week or the next, Sam will be getting a Baclofen Pump.  This device will hopefully help with the spasticity issues in his right leg.  Right now, when he tries to move his leg, it stiffens up.  The other benefit to the pump is that it stores and releases prescribed amounts of medicine at a steady level without the patient feeling the roller coaster effect that is common with taking medicine orally. 

With the Baclofen Pump and Sam being taken off Claritin, (it was thought that he had allergies, but but they now think it was GERD) he will be off all medicine that has any type of sedating effect. 

A few words from Sam’s father Eric who visited them on Thursday:

I’m writing this morning about Erin as I had the pleasure of visiting with them on Thursday and got to watch Erin take care of Sam in person…She gave him a military type haircut which seems simple in itself…(I remember it only taking about 90 seconds back when) Ha! Erin spent at least 30 minutes on Sam’s haircut and not just because she is inexperienced. She is a self admitted perfectionist and challenges herself to do the best job possible. As she cuts, she consults with Sam and asks what he wants and likes even down to how close the clipper head will cut. She is careful to blend it just so that it fades perfectly from one length to another. She takes into consideration the shape of his head and how it will look in 3 days…After she is finished she meticulously cleans all the bits of hair from his head, neck, and back of which there is very little as she has draped him in a hospital gown and towel…She cleans and oils the clipper for the next time…Finally she uses a Neutrogena after shave moisturizing product that soothes the freshly hewn and closely cut parts…Next Sam gets a manicure of sorts to keep any sharp edges from scratching himself. After his grooming he is refreshed, relaxed, and looks great! He feels better too and is ready for speech therapy…He doesn’t say anything to Gayle, his speech therapist, but reads several words and shows he is thinking clearly by answering some deductive reasoning questions…After some encouragement from Erin and I, he answers a question I put to him…”Who loves ya Sam?” He clearly answers, “Dad!”…My day is made and I leave promising to return on Sunday for his next set of words…Erin and I get some very subtle but definite smiles from him this day….

“Keeping the Faith”

News Coverage Wanes as Iraq War Goes into 5th Year

March 24, 2008

news coverage_IAVA Yesterday there was a significant amount of coverage in the news about war casualties in Iraq reaching the 4,000 mark. But after five years of war, Americans are getting weary with Iraq. There is only a very small percentage of Americans who are truly affected by the war. With the elections coming up, the mortgage melt down, the latest on Lindsay and Brittany—there isn’t a lot of time to cover things like war casualties, PTSD and TBI. It’s so depressing, isn’t it?

According to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), only 3% of the news in February was dedicated to the war. An even more troubling statistic; only one in three Americans know how many American troops have died in Iraq! According to the Pew Research Center, press coverage of the war is at its lowest point since the war began. I’ll bet more people know who got voted off American idol last week!

Please take a minute now to sign an open letter to the media (sponsored by the IAVA) and demand that major networks increase their coverage of the Iraq war. Our troops are still in danger every hour of the day in Iraq. They are still fighting for their country. We must continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. We must not let our news media and our government allow the American public to detach themselves from the men and women who are dying for our country. We must also not allow the American public to forget that, yes, 4000 troops have now died in Iraq—-but many more wounded troops are returning with devastating injuries. It is our responsibility as voters and Americans to ensure these men and women who have served their country so bravely, will be given the best medical care possible.

Sam_physical therapy_3_22_08_kentfield Sam’s medical status: This picture to the right is of Sam during physical therapy at Kentfield. His right arm continues to get stronger. You can see in this “action shot” that he is punching up to meet Erin’s hand.

Last weekend Sam was put on the drug bromocriptine. According to Sam’s doctor, this drug has had success in stimulating the speech recovery of brain injury patients. They are starting him on a very small dosage and moving him up to around 12 milligrams per day depending on Sam’s reaction. On Tuesday Erin called and said that Sam was starting to mouth words much better and she was able to read his lips more easily. After his speech therapy on Tuesday Erin asked him how his therapy went and without any prompting, he spelled out for her (via the alphabet board) board “all right”.

The news kept getting better and better as the week went by: On Friday (Good Friday) Erin called her mother and asked her if she wanted to say hi to Sam. She put the phone up to Sam’s ear and said hi to him, and the most exciting thing happened—he said “hello” back to her! Yes—clear and fairly strong! Erin was just giggling with excitement!

Yesterday Erin came up to have Easter dinner with us here in Citrus Heights (Sacramento area) and right before we started to eat our dinner, Sam’s mother called (she was with Sam at Kentfield). She said he was doing great and very active. As she was leaving the room to go back home, she sneezed and again very clearly, heard Sam say “bless you”.

It was a truly “blessed” Easter for the Nichol’s and Neria families. Thank you for your prayers.

In Praise of VA Health Care

March 9, 2008

The Palo Alto Polytrauma Center Wing 7D: During the past six months Sam has been a patient in wing 7D of the Veterans Administration Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto California. This facility is a part of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Since Sam was first wounded in Iraq, I’ve been on the Internet researching subjects related to Sam’s injuries. I’ve also read many stories about the VA Health Care system—most of them being negative.

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you a different VA Health Care story. This is the story of Sam—a wounded Marine slowly coming out of a coma. He was at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda Maryland for two months after his initial injuries and then flown to Palo Alto to continue his recovery. All the while, his loving wife (my daughter has been by his side).

When Sam and Erin first arrived at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, Erin was so upset. She had become so comfortable at the NNMC…she had her cozy room at the Navy Lodge just down the street from the hospital. She had a host of Marines assigned to the hospital who were willing and ready to help her and Sam in any way possible. She was comfortable with the doctors, the nurses and therapist who were all caring and professional.

SamUpright_Palo Alto VA_2_20_08_taken by EricBut an interesting thing happened after a few days in Palo Alto—as Erin got more comfortable with her surroundings she noticed something. The doctors and nurse and therapist at the VA hospital, although not all military, were also caring and professional.

There has been so many horror stories about military and VA hospitals and their lack of cleanliness, old equipment, facilities in disrepair and a lack of motivation by the staff. That was not Erin and Sam’s experience. And I can say from many visits to the VA hospital over the past six months, that has not been my experience either.

The Palo Alto VA hospital is spacious and clean. The staff is friendly and attentive not only to Sam but also to Erin and their visitors. From the doctors assigned to Sam, to the nurses and therapist, the social workers, even the people who clean Sam’s room—they have all been wonderful. Erin feels like these people have become part of her family.

During a time of tragedy and trial for Sam and Erin, the good people of the VA Polytrauma Center wing 7D in Palo Alto have been a source of strength and hope. As Erin’s father, I want to publicly thank them for the work they do for all our wounded warriors. I have been able to sleep soundly at night knowing Sam was so well cared for and Erin was so happy with the treatment he was receiving.


The week before Sam was transferred to Kentfield (I’ll speak more of that below), the hospital staff in wing 7D got together and took a picture with Sam (while Erin was out to lunch). They then framed the picture and all of them wrote a note to Sam and Erin. The framed picture was presented to Erin the day before her and Sam left for Kentfield. It was a very tearful goodbye…

To give you an example of the loving and nurturing environment Sam and Erin were in, I’d like to share with you what one of the staff wrote…This gentleman was one of Sam’s nurses:

Sam and Erin,
My favorite two people—You won my heart. I pray daily for Sam’s recovery and it has been a great pleasure and honor to be able to take care of Sam. I love you both and only pray for my boy to keep improving daily. God has his plan…never lose faith. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll miss you both…with love—

The Next Chapter: On Wednesday March 6th, 2008 Sam was moved to the Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital which is about 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. This is a private hospital and has a very different feel to it compared to the VA hospital in Palo Alto.

The rooms at Kentfield are very small and there are two people to a room, so it is pretty cramped for visitors. This will take some getting used to since Sam had a single “large” room in Palo Alto.

Sam’s new doctor took a look at a brain scan that was taken at the VA hospital in Palo Alto in February and she was very happy with what she saw. She feels they can really make some positive progress with Sam.

Please pray for Sam and Erin. We Sam_Erin_Kentfield_3_8_08believe God has put them in Kentfield for a reason and there will be some wonderful progress made at this hospital…but as with the move from Bethesda to Palo Alto, change is difficult. Erin has said that Sam is comfortable being in Kentfield but it is a little more difficult of a transition for Erin. She had a pretty rough weekend, but had lots of support from Sam’s father who visited on Saturday morning. Myself and my wife were there on Saturday afternoon and Erin’s sister, Allison, spent the whole weekend with her.

The picture above of Sam and Erin was taken by Sam’s father, Eric on Saturday. I received it in an email with an explanatory note from Eric:

Erin had been sitting next to him and talking to us all when
she scooted up beside him and laid her head on his shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her and hugged her tightly. Without a prompt, he lowered his head to kiss the top of her head. It was precious…

Bob Woodruff Video of being in a coma in Bethesda

March 3, 2008

Bob Woodruff Family Fund:  This is an interesting video of the ABC news anchor, Bob Woodruff talking about being in a coma for 36 days after he was hit by an IED in Iraq.  The video is about 5 minutes long.  Don’t miss the last minute of the video where he talks about what he believes brought him out of the coma.  I think you will see why Sam has come along as far as he has.

You can read more about Bob Woodruff and the Bob Woodruff Family Fund that was established to raise awareness of the war’s signature injuries, TBI and PTSD by clicking here.

Erin’s Heroes:  I was perusing Erin’s MySpace web page the other day and came across the section: “Erin’s Interest”.  I wanted to share with all of you the “Hero’s” section, which of course, brought a tear to her father’s eye:

erin's heros from her myspace page

Sam’s medical status:  Sam’s liver count has improved to a point where he can be transported to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital.  This move should occur this Wednesday baring any unforeseen circumstances.  As I mentioned before, Sam will be at Kentfield for at least eight weeks, and afterwards, may be sent back to the VA hospital in Palo Alto or possibly the VA hospital in Livermore, Ca. 

Erin is pretty excited about the move to Kentfield but will be very sad to leave the wonderful people at the Palo Alto VA hospital behind.  She feels like they are a part of her family and (and I’m sure Sam) will miss the daily interaction with the therapist, nurses and doctors. 

Erin is going to be staying in an apartment in San Anselmo which is about a ten minute drive from the hospital in Kentfield.  It will be about the same size as the room she has at the Fisher House at the hospital in Palo Alto.  The apartment is furnished and overlooks a beautiful grove of trees.  Erin visited the apartment on Thursday and feels she will be very comfortable there.

As I was talking to Erin this morning, I heard lots of chatter going on in the background.  Erin told me Sam was doing his punching therapy.  His right shoulder has gotten much stronger lately and he was punching a padded target that the physical therapist was holding up.  Erin said he’s been working on his jab and right cross!

When I was in church this past weekend listening to the 2nd reading from Ephesians 5:8-14, I got chills when I heard the following verses:

Awake, O sleeper,
arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light!

Pray with us for a safe and “healing” trip for Sam to Kentfield.