Freedom Alliance partners with military medical centers across the country to urge recovering service members out of the hospital and into various venues and events. In this way of honoring their service to our country, we build lasting relationships with our humble heroes, and they also benefit from the support they get from each other. Providing a bit of fun and access to new experiences can also aid in their healing, and we at Freedom Alliance take great pride in making this happen.
Last month, we hosted twelve injured service members and two staff from the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia.
Patients from the poly-trauma unit come from all branches of the military and are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. For many of these soldiers, they begin treatment unable to leave their hospital rooms without an exhausting amount of stress. They, along with their families and with assistance from medical staff, must work ceaselessly to return to a state of normal functioning.
These are not tangible wounds—such as amputations and scars—and yet they are no less daunting to overcome.
Bringing our Richmond group into the commotion and crowds of downtown Washington, D.C., we recognized that most experienced difficulty handling the noises and masses of people in general. What was beyond heartening, however, was to see how each soldier took care of the other, forgetting one’s own condition to support a friend.
The enthusiasm about the night’s proceedings definitely helped the soldiers push past whatever anxiety or debility might impede their progress. Remarkably, there were smiles all around.
And it wasn’t only human bonds we noticed. One young Army Specialist, who had suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was aided by his dependable service dog, Eisner. Eisner and his soldier comprised a true team, looking out for one another in a way that was affecting to all around.
We began the evening with an abundant dinner at Hill Country Barbeque & Market. Beef and chicken, sides, and desserts satisfied every appetite. Then we headed across the street to the Verizon Center to join 20,000 rambunctious hockey fans.
The Capitals battled the New York Islanders on the ice while we looked on, taking up two rows in our section.
Later, Curtis, our staff liaison at Richmond, wrote on behalf of the twelve: “All of the guys and ladies wanted me to thank everyone at Freedom Alliance for your hospitality. The seats, food and your company, of course, were awesome!!! Thank you so much for your continued support!”
This night represented a great deal for these valorous service members. Attendance was a choice each soldier made, meaning that they wanted to get well and would push past their reservations to do that. It tested their resolve and boosted their morale.
We knew they could do it! Their motivation, patriotism, and dedication inspire us at Freedom Alliance to do what we can for the brave few who fight—even long after they come home from war.