The patients and staff of the Polytrauma Transitional Program, at Richmond, Virginia’s Hunter Holmes McGuire VA hospital, have a very special place in the heart of our organization. Freedom Alliance is dedicated to providing these patients, military personnel who are recovering from multiple disabilities (most often including brain injuries), enjoyable opportunities to support their rehabilitation.
Such events have included rafting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation, as well as sporting events, museums, and meals.
For the last event of 2015 with Richmond Polytrauma we wanted to go all out, with a sumptuous dinner at Texas de Brazil in the far West End of Richmond.
This Brazilian-American steakhouse has given Freedom Alliance the chance to host troop appreciation dinners every month this year at any of their restaurants across the country, completely free of charge!
We have organized dinners for military service members at the following Texas de Brazil locations: Palm Beach Gardens, Orlando, and Tampa, Florida; Fairfax and Richmond, Virginia; Fort Worth, Texas; and Denver, Colorado.
Not only patriotic and generous, Texas de Brazil is an eating experience you won’t soon forget. There are over 50 items in its seasonal salad bar (including sushi), and servers come to each table with hand-carved cuts of meat, such as chicken, lamb, sirloin, and filet mignon.
Polytrauma staff members Curtis and April met us at the restaurant and introduced us to their six patients, including Mike, a Navy veteran who was disabled in a vehicle accident.
The resulting brain injury has impaired Mike’s speech, but he persistently repeats words until his message comes clear. Over dinner he was eager to share about his accident, how the steering column had to be removed from his chest, and he even had photographs of the scene. Mike is well aware that he is fortunate to have survived.
We likewise hosted another miracle case. Damien was training to become a Navy SEAL when his motorcycle was hit by a car and he had to be resuscitated. Like Mike, Damien had evidence on his phone, this time a video of the crash. After eight months and many surgeries, this sailor is in the final stages of recovery.
Freedom Alliance invited two Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal Officers, Tristan and Gregory. The men are attending a Captain’s Career Course at Fort Lee; we wanted to give them a break from studying, plus the polytrauma patients enjoyed their company.
The manager of the Richmond Texas de Brazil met us at our table to say that dinner, drinks, and desserts were all compliments of the house, as a thanks to the veterans for serving our country. It was a meaningful gesture and the service members were visibly touched.
We afterwards received a note from Curtis, a therapist at Richmond Polytrauma.
“Your organization has made a world of difference in our patients’ lives,” he wrote.
“Without your support, we would not have been able to provide the various functional opportunities [which] allow us to increase the function of our patients by decreasing their PTSD, increasing their endurance, [as well as] safety and social skills in community environments that we haven’t been able to integrate due to a lack of resources.”
We are happy to do so, and Freedom Alliance is anticipating another excellent year of opportunities for this group ahead!