Friday, January 24, 2014

Granting Wishes

Through the A Warrior's Wish® program, Hope For The Warriors® has granted many Wishes throughout the years. Some Wishes have been practical—flight school tuition, a handicap accessible van, or a service dog.  Other Wishes have been exciting—a dream wedding, a family trip to Disney World, tickets to see a favorite team at the Super Bowl.  Regardless of the type of Wish or the amount, the goal of each Wish is to bring hope to the service member, their family and their community.

Soon, our Wish Committee will meet to determine the Wishes that we will next grant.  In the meantime, we share with you the speech that one Wish recipient gave at Camp Lejeune when NASCAR driver Ryan Newman came to visit.  David's Wish was for tools to aid his new woodworking business and granting his Wish changed his life and for his young family.  (Read more.)


The last time I was here (Wounded Warrior Battalion), I was being presented with my ensign at my retirement ceremony. That was just over six months ago, and even though I knew that I was being medically retired, it was a really scary time. I have a hard enough time trusting people, and essentially, when you exit the Marine Corps, you're trusting all of these people, most of whom you've never met, to do their jobs with enough synchronization so that you don't go into civilian life both broken AND broke.

I had a great plan. At least- on paper. I was going to start a woodworking business, mainly because woodworking had been my best therapy while going through the post-injury process. While I had the skill set needed to operate a full shop- I didn't have...a full shop. I had the hand tools that I inherited from my grandpa, who was a carpenter; a few more that I had purchased; a cheap table saw and a Dewalt benchtop planer. I was determined to run my business, even if it meant working myself into the ground. I was working out of my garage (that's where I did powertool work) and my 12x16 shop (which is strictly for hand tools; as I like to say- that's where the magic happens). Everybody out there right now thinking to themselves "how does a guy with a busted back make furniture, especially for a living?" Well, it took a lot of adjustments, lots of reteaching muscles and muscle groups to compensate for my back- but, ultimately, I would need machines. Ones to take care of the vast majority of what would have otherwise been (further) backbreaking work. I needed industrial machines. Machines that performed very well and left a surface that wouldn't take an unreasonable amount of hand work to make furniture-worthy. But yeah, those industrial machines... Those are really expensive.

So there it was, the gap in my plan. I could have taken out a small business loan, but with a brand new baby at that time, and I was just getting out, I was just too afraid. And then Jaqui, my RCC, suggested that I apply for A Warrior’s Wish® from Hope For The Warriors®. Essentially, I submitted a packet which included the necessary medical documentation, my business plan, and an essay outlining why I deserved to be granted my Wish.
The day before my End of Service date, I got a call while my gunny was signing my checkout sheet from a number that I didn't recognize. I didn't fully believe it at first, but my Wish had been granted!! I was incredibly excited, but not nearly as excited as I was when the building company delivered my new steel shop, and the UPS big rig pulled into my neighborhood, filled with glistening machines. Once those giant industrial machines were sitting in my driveway, it really sank in. How much my life had just changed. I was now able to step into the shoes that I was meant to fill. I had a REAL shop. I considered my hand tool shop to be very real, don't get me wrong, but when people would visit and see it, there was usually a 'nice' or some comment on the organization of the tools. I have never had anyone walk into my new shop, comfortably fitted with eight Large Lovingly Luminated and Lubricated Lumber Loppers who hasn't given some kind of resounding noise of awe. And resounding noises of awe are ALWAYS welcome in my shops. Either one, although my hand tool shop has been feeling a little neglected and could probably use the louder awes.
On a serious note, (as cliché as this is gonna sound) I don't know where I'd be without the folks here at the Wounded Warrior Battalion and especially Hope For The Warriors®. The battalion staff helped me to put some of the pieces of my life back together, and always had my back. Hope For The Warriors® gave me, no strings attached, the tools necessary to build my dream. I will always be grateful. Far, far beyond grateful.
Learn more about Hope For The Warriors®

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