Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happily Ever After: A Fairytale Wedding

Cpl. Baldwin Scott Casimiro-Moreland was born in Hawaii, but raised and recruited out of Texas. In October of 2007, Scott was proud to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.  During his service, he deployed a total of three times within five years. These experiences weighed hard on him mentally and physically.
Luckily, Scott was not alone in enduring the emotional trials of his deployment. Rebekah, his girlfriend since 2009, was by his side for the ups and downs and then a devastating phone call.
On October 31, 2011, while Scott was on combat patrol, a 40-pound IED exploded five feet away from him. The explosion sent shrapnel through his sunglasses, leaving him blind in his left eye. The shrapnel also embedded into his arms and legs and gave him a grade three concussion. Rebekah received the devastating phone call five hours later.


Scott returned to the United States for his rehabilitation.  About a month after the accident, he pulled a ring from their Christmas tree, and proposed to Rebekah.

Losing sight out of his left eye is not the only struggle Scott has dealt with throughout his life. Loss of family, and parents has been an emotional battle for Scott since his childhood. Abandoned by his mother, and raised by his stepfather, Scott has not had it easy. Since his injury, his family has become closer.

Weddings are a time when family can be brought together to celebrate a new beginning. In order to celebrate their wedding properly, Scott turned to Hope For The Warriors® and our A Warrior's Wish® Program. 

Through the A Warrior’s Wish® Program, Scott's Wish for a perfect wedding for his bride was granted. The Wish provided Scott and Rebekah with almost $9,000 to cover expenses for their wedding.  They married on September 15, 2012 in Columbia, SC at the Seibels House & Garden.


It is a privilege to be able to serve members of the military who have served our nation for so long. Without the generosity of the Hope For The Warriors® supporters, we would not be able to grant Scott’s Wish. Thank you from all of us at Hope For The Warriors®.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Critical Care Coordination

This summer, several members of the Hope For The Warriors® staff met to discuss one of our important programs, Immediate Needs.  As they discussed the program and the military families that we assist through this program, several things became clear.  First, our military families continue to struggle financially as they deal with physical and psychological combat wounds.  And second, that the name of the program does not really describe all the assistance that is given through this program.
For this reason, we have renamed the program: Critical Care Coordination.  Under this umbrella, program coordinators continue to work with military families to address immediate and emergency financial needs.  However, coordinators also work with the Department of Veteran Affairs, the military unit, medical professionals, the Department of Defense, and other nonprofit organizations. 
By working with other agencies and nonprofits, we strive to not just help with emergency needs.  Often, we connect with the family during times of transition:  newly injured, transitioning out of the military, or loss of jobs due to injuries.  Our ultimate goal is to pinpoint solutions that will help the family today and in the future.
In August alone, Hope For The Warriors® provided more than $75,000 in support through the Critical Care Coordination program.  The chart shows how those dollars were spent. (Click on the chart to enlarge view.)  Rent and mortgage payments topped the list in August as it does most months, followed by food.  During the most stressful times, we strive to keep these military families in their homes with food on the table. 
Many of the smaller, miscellaneous expenses were spent to support families who are relocated temporarily to military medical facilities to be near a wounded service member.  This transition can be a financial burden to families during a critical time in a service member’s recovery.  Support is granted to alleviate stress from these families and allow them to focus on the medical needs of the service member.
To learn more about this program, please visit the Critical Care Coordination website page.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Man's Best Friend

Cory and Ali bond
Corporal Cory Bracy, USMC may understand the meaning of the old saying, “A dog is a man’s best friend” more than most as a Marine who trains with dogs who will deploy into combat.
Training with Ali in Yuma
In 2008, Cory worked at the USMC Specialized Search Dog School where he was introduced to Ali. Ali was one of the dogs being trained to go into combat, but when the time came to deploy, he did not make the cut. Cory was forced to deploy with another dog, Blade, leaving Ali stateside.
Cory deploys with Blade
During the deployment, Cory and Blade were hit by an IED. Cory now struggles with a traumatic brain injury and several other medical problems. Blade survived the blast but, as a result, became severely aggressive.

With Cory’s injuries, he looked to adopt a service dog to help him with his stability and it only seemed fitting to adopt one of the dogs he had trained with. Blade’s aggressiveness wouldn’t allow him to be adopted, but the kennels have allowed Cory the opportunity to adopt his first dog, Ali, in his stead.

To support Cory’s use of a service dog, Hope For The Warriors® purchased the required dog harness needed for Cory’s stability and balance. Providing the harness is just one way that Hope For The Warriors® aims to restore self, family and hope for wounded service members, their families, and families of the fallen.

We are pleased that Ali’s adoption will soon be complete and Hope For The Warriors® hopes that this harness will help the two friends remain happy and healthy together for years to come.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The American Flag Unites

Jean is a member of Team Hope For The Warriors® and she will join the Team at the ING New York City Marathon this November.  However, Jean will do more than just run.  She will complete all 26.2 miles carrying the American flag. 

On Saturday, Jean held a Relay Run at her local high school with two goals in mind.  First, to remember the events of September 11 and honor those lost.  And second, to raise funds for Hope For The Warriors®.  

Jean with three of her five children

The event began at 9 a.m. with the plan to have at least one person running or walking around the track at all times until 11 p.m.  To participate, people donated $5/lap or no more than $25.  Of course, people were welcome to donate more too.

Jean speaks to the group

The day was beautiful, although windy.  It began with Jean talking to the group about Hope For The Warriors® and the goals of our programs.  A veteran spoke and the entire group sang the National Anthem. 

Jean ran the first lap but she was definitely not alone.  She was joined by firefighters, walking in full gear, the high school cross country team, veterans, and many more from the community.  All together, 256 laps were completed and more than $800 was raised. 

Many from the community joined to honor and remember

Jean also met her goal of completing 60 laps.  The day had to end a little early due to the high winds, but all goals were met before the flags blew away!

Thank you to Jean for planning this great event that raised funds and awareness for Hope For The Warriors®.  When asked why she runs with a flag, she shares:

“Why carry the flag?” is something I often get asked. I wanted to do something to get people excited about their country. Americans love their flag. It is a symbol of Hope and Freedom, among others.  New York is a center of hope for this nation. 11 years ago, this nation united to give hope to a city that had been devastatingly attacked.   Since running with the flag, I have seen how such divided people can become one.  I have seen what it means to veterans who have sacrificed so much for all of us.  I want them to know that what they have done is appreciated, and not done in vain.  I don't just carry the flag for myself, I carry it for all Americans.  How fitting it will be to carry our flag through the streets of New York, and also, to run and raise money for Team Hope For The Warriors®.  I am so honored to have this opportunity.

To view more photos, visit the Facebook photo album.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Serving Without Regret

Jon has no regrets.

A native of Colorado, Jon enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and served from 1993 - 1997.  Jon had served honorably and had moved on to a new life.

The events of 9/11 had a huge impact on Jon, as it did on many in our country.  Still, living in Colorado, it would have been easy for him to continue on with his new life.  And yet, it changed his entire outlook.  He reenlisted and deployed to Kuwait in January 2003. On March 23, enemy forces fired on his 5-ton truck.  Wounds sustained have led to lower leg paralysis and nerve damage.

Despite his injuries and his slow recovery, Jon has never regretted his decision to reenlist. He remains proud of each and every day of his service.

On Top of the Mountain

Photo taken by Reed Hoffman

Jon has also never given up on new goals.  Always an avid skiier since childhood, Jon was reintroduced to the sport after his injury.  Today, he is the 2012 Standing Men's Adaptive National Champion in both Downhill and Super Giant Slalom.  He was also named to the US Adaptive Alpine B Team. 

Tunnel to Towers

When Jon is not speeding down a mountain, he is working hard to stay physically fit and continue his recovery.  He has utilized a handcycle for training in his off season and cycles 5 - 15 miles per day. 

Jon has also never forgotten the impact of 9/11.  Last year, he joined Hope For The Warriors® at the Tunnel to Towers Race, a 5K run that remembers the path of a firefighter on the morning of 9/11.  Each year, members of Team Hope For The Warriors® start in the front of the race and lead the crowd through the Brooklyn Tunnel and towards the fallen towers.  The very front of the start are the handcyclists from the Team.  Each are a wounded service member who utilizes athletic goals as part of their rehabilitation. 

Last year, Jon left his handcycle at home and worked his way through the 5K course on foot.  He pushed his way through the streets both running and walking and had a great time meeting the former mayor of New York City at the finish line.

Jon is not alone.  There are thousands of military members who have served and continue to serve this country.  In spite of their injuries and challenges, they do not regret their choice to defend our nation.  Hope For The Warriors® thanks each for their service and remains focused on restoring self, family and hope in each.

Returning to NYC

This year, Jon is returning to the Tunnel to Towers race.  His goal this year is to run the entire distance.  As a Marine, we have no doubt that he will meet this goal.

Go Jon and Semper Fi!