Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Wounded Warrior Project

"Say a prayer for peace."

But in the meantime support our troops and take the time to let them know that you really do care.

These men and women need our support, and as importantly, they need to know that their sacrifices are not in vain. Regardless of the politics of war, the warrior bears the cost and like many of these soldiers, they must carry that burden for the rest of their lives.

Honor them. Let them know that you support and appreciate them. Never allow them to ever feel alone or forgotten.

Join "The Wounded Warrior Project."


I had the opportunity last fall, to participate in small part in the Wounded Warrior Project. My experience involved a former Marine, a Gulf War veteran. He was forty three years old and diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. His name is Martin Martinez.

Martin was in hospice at the time, his body racked with the devastation of the cancer that was consuming his body, but the disease hadn't stolen away his character or his personality. At least not yet.

Martin had served honorably during the Gulf war and was decorated and returned home to begin a new life. He was married and had two children. But there was something stalking him, something that would haunt him in the background, unbeknownst to him.

Whether its affects ultimately resulted in his divorce is something that only he and his former wife may ever know. It was at some point after the divorce that Martin learned of the thing inside his head. Initially the doctors offered encouragement that it could be removed and treated. Martin underwent surgeries and treatment and afterward he was tentatively given a good bill of health. But the stalker returned.

By mid 2010 the doctors brought Martin the bad news. The cancer had returned and his brain tumor was inoperable, there was nothing they could do. By August, Martin was swollen from all the steroids and treatments and he was unable to walk, he was in a wheel chair and he labored just to get through each day. By September Martin was moved to hospice and told that the time would be 'soon' maybe a matter of weeks.

One of his nurses asked him what he would like to do if he could, before his appointed time to leave this life. Martin told her...."I'd like to see the mountains one more time. I'd like to go trout fishing." And she contacted the "Avet Project" and those in the "Wounded Warriors Project" and the "Patriot Guard Riders" came together to make Martin's last wish in this life a reality.

In less than a week's time, donations were made to pay for Martin and his fiance and his nurse, to fly from Fort Worth Texas to Knoxville Tennessee. A cabin in the Great Smokey Mountains on a prime trout stream was donated for the weekend and all food and expenses were donated and paid for in advance. And on October 1st, 2010 Martin Martinez arrived at the Knoxville Tennessee airport, to a heroes welcome.

Seeing his face that day as he was wheeled into the terminal atrium, as he suddenly saw the Patriot Guard flag line and the signs welcoming him was more than he was prepared for. Martin had been told of the trip to Tennessee and the cabin and the weekend of trout fishing and hopefully some respite and peace from his fate, but Martin did not know that he was to be welcomed as a hero. Martin didn't know that over one hundred Patriot Guard Riders and hundreds of others were there to meet him and escort him the thirty miles to his cabin. Martin didn't know that there would be TV cameras and the mayor of Knoxville there to read a proclamation declaring it Martin Martinez day in Knoxville Tennessee.

There was a pure white limousine waiting on Martin at the curb and over 100 Patriot Guard motor cycles there to escort him into the Great Smokey Mountains. There was also a police escort and throngs of people at the airport that day, who took the time to pause and applaud Martin as he made his way through the airport.

To say the least, it was a moving experience for all present. As for myself, I had ridden over two hundred miles that October morning from Georgia, just so I could be there for that moment when Martin arrived. Then later to be one of the many who escorted him to the peace in the mountains that he had a week earlier, only dreamed of. And I would not trade the experiences of that day for anything. The opportunity to see Martin's face was all the reward that was needed for me. A lot of people came together that day to make a memory for a young man who deserved a far better fate than the hand that life had dealt him.

My one thought and hope as I rode home the next day, was that somehow this would be a moment in time that Martin could embrace as the disease that was stealing his life slowing took him away. I prayed that God would allow him to embrace the memories of his trip that weekend as something that could stave off the pain until he finally slipped the bonds of this life.

As I go forward, I hope that I can be part of other memories for those who have served and sacrificed for this nation. I hope that I can contribute in someway to thank and repay them for their sacrifices.

And I hope.....that many others will do the same. So say a prayer for peace, but also say a prayer for them. Then let them know that you care and that you will remember them.

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