Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wounded Dycusburg Soldier Goes on Duck Hunt in Maryland

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published Nov. 11, 2007 in the Port Huron, MI newspaper, The Times Herald. Interviewed in the story are Rudy and Chase Matthews from Dycusburg. The link for the full story is at the bottom of this post.)

Veteran aid group grows: Family offers help to injured soldiers during recovery
By Nicole Gerring, Times Herald

It started by giving away a toothbrush, a phone card, a jug of laundry soap.

Now Micheal Sparling, 56, of Greenwood Township coordinates the donation of larger and more expensive items such as a wheelchairs, Segway motorized transports and financial grants to soldiers and veterans in need.

Sparling has spent two years watching families cope as their loved ones undergo surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

He's watched soldiers recover from battle wounds only to find a rough path ahead. Amputees must learn to live without an arm or a leg, learn how to walk with prostheses or see the world from a wheelchair.

They discover their bodies are not the same as before they went to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Although the cost of surgery and rehabilitation for soldiers is covered by the military, other expenses and needs arise, Mike Sparling said. He's spent two years watching his son Sgt. Josh Sparling, 26, undergo 45 surgeries at Walter Reed and knows the struggle.

Military families sometimes have to drop everything to support their loved ones, Sparling said.

"Either mom or dad's had to quit their job ... It's not like they're not in debt already. They still have all the bills they've had before, and they don't have the income. Somebody's got to fill that gap. We're proud that we do."

After starting small in May, America's Wounded Heroes today is known as an organization that military members and their families can turn to in times of need. It's also designed to support other "heroes," who protect Americans and are hurt in the line of duty: police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Full story here ...

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