Heroes Overcoming Obstacles

November 29, 2007

Limits are placed on us by Science, by Medicine, by our Parents, by our Teachers, and by our Peers. We are told that we can only go so far. Perhaps they are trying to force us to face facts. Perhaps they are trying to help us… Or perhaps they are clueless as to the inner strengths that guide each individual, pushing us to unbelievable feats.

My brother, born with birth defects was told he would never walk. He is now running marathons.

Jim Abbott, who pitched for 9 years in Major League Baseball, was born with only one hand.

… And the two Heroes listed below ~


Charlotte (N.C.) News & Observer
Nov. 20, 2007

Injured Marine cited as leader
By Jay Price

Three years ago this week, Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell was discharged from the hospital, wondering how much he was going to recover from a major head injury he suffered when a mortar shell landed on his tent in Iraq.

Now Esquire magazine is honoring the Marine as one of the “Best and Brightest of 2007” in its December issue, which appears on newsstands today.

The accompanying article isn’t just about Maxwell, who has become a legend at Camp Lejeune. It also offers a raw, R-rated glimpse of life inside the Wounded Warrior Barracks on the Marine base near Jacksonville.

Maxwell, 42, helped start the barracks after he was wounded. One day, after being released from the hospital and returning to Lejeune to recuperate, the former triathlete came upon a Marine who had been wounded and sent home.

The young man was alone and crying.That shouldn’t happen, Maxwell said, and he and Master Sgt. Ken Barnes started lobbying Marine leaders for housing so the wounded Marines could live together while they recovered in a supportive environment.

Concept expands

After they got the barracks started at Lejeune — it’s called Maxwell Hall– the concept spread to the West Coast, where the Marines at Camp Pendleton set up similar housing. Then this past spring, the Corps decided to start a nationwide wounded-warrior regiment, so that injured Marines would have a supportive unit around them.

The idea even spread to the Army, which has begun its own wounded-troops unit. Maxwell recently took an assignment as an adviser to the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. 

Among other duties, he’s the officer in charge of the regiment’s new call center, which opens this week. The center will take calls from wounded Marines and try to find solutions to their problems, Maxwell said.  It also will begin an effort to contact every Marine who has been injured since Sept. 11, 2001, in combat or otherwise, to see if he or she needs help of any kind.

The story in Esquire also includes Maxwell’s wife, Shannon, who has dedicated much of her own life to helping wounded troops. She founded a support group at Lejeune for the spouses of wounded Marines and was a co-founder of Hope for the Warriors, a nonprofit organization that raises money for the wounded. Last week, she won an honor for her work from the National Military Family Association. ‘I don’t know why…’

The Esquire story also details the lives of the young Marines living in the barracks.  Maxwell said that he could have done without the sexual references but that the attention would help his cause.“I’ll take credit from anybody to put the word out,” said Maxwell, who still stumbles over his words sometimes.

“There are still guys out there who don’t know anything about this, and they’re just sitting there alone. “Reporters will call and want to do a Maxwell story because I’m the most well-known,” he said. “We get ’em out to the barracks, and they cry when they leave. It really gets them.”

Maxwell said he was a little bewildered that he had been picked by the magazine. “Esquire had this dinner up in New York last week, and I don’t know why I was a part of it,” he said. “They had all these geniuses there, people who had invented important stuff. “I just figured Marines ought to hang out together,” he said. “That’s not genius stuff.”

Well, Lt. Col Maxwell I disagree with you. What you are doing places you above “Genius Stuff.”
Not to take anything away from Lt Col Maxwell, I would like to point out a new friend, Craig J. Phillips.Craig is also a survivor and a hero!  While overcoming great obstacles, he is reaching out and helping others.

Second Chance to Live  <– Please take some time and read about this wonderful man. He has succeeded in a world that decided his disabilty should limit him.  I will share the comments that Craig left for me: I am interested in providing encouragement to our veterans and the soldiers who have been wounded while protecting our great country. Additionally, I am interested in providing practical information and insight to assist their families.

My name is Craig J. Phillips. I am a traumatic brain injury survivor and a master’s level rehabilitation counselor. I sustained an open skull fracture with right frontal lobe damage and remained in a coma for 3 weeks at the age of 10 in August of 1967.

I underwent brain and skull surgery after waking from the coma. Follow-up cognitive and psyche-social testing revealed that I would not be able to succeed beyond high school. In 1967 Neurological Rehabilitation was not available to me, so I had to teach myself how to walk, talk, read, write and speak in complete sentences. I completed high school on time and went on to obtain both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.

For an in depth view of my process please read my post, My Journey Thus Far Through out my lifetime I developed strategies to overcome many obstacles and in so doing I have achieved far beyond all reasonable expectations.

On February 6, 2007 at the encouragement of a friend I created Second Chance to Live.Second Chance to Live, which is located at Second Chance to Live presents topics in such a way to encourage, motivate and empower the reader to live life on life’s terms.

I believe our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up. As a traumatic brain injury survivor, I speak from my experience, strength and hope. As a professional, I provide information to encourage, motivate and empower both disabled and non-disabled individuals to not give up on their process. Please read my post, The Power of Identification My interest is to provide encouragement, hope, motivation and empowerment to veterans and their families.

Thank you for your time and kindness.
Have a simply phenomenal day!
Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
Second Chance to Live

Our circumstances are not meant to keep us down, but to build us up!

I believe peoples paths cross for a reason and that Craig stumbling onto my web site was no accident. Please pass on his links to those who are searching for help with Brain Trama. Having not only survived, but pushing to excel in life gives us a glimpse into the strengths that Craig carries. 

Two more fantastic sites to check out: Wounded Warrior Project and Life Transformed  If you have additional sites for our wounded Heroes, please post them in the comments and I will add them to my side bar.


Wednesday Hero

November 28, 2007

Sgt. Antwan L. Walker

Sgt. Antwan L. Walker22 years old from Tampa, Florida
2nd Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division
May 18, 2005
Sgt. Antwan Walker was excited about coming home from Iraq to celebrate his 23rd birthday with his family and friends. His mother, Andrea Pringle, was busy planning the party when an Army official unexpectedly came to her house.

She said he told her Thursday that her son was killed the previous day by a bomb blast in Ramadi. The Department of Defense hasn’t publicly confirmed his death.

Sgt. Antwan Walker, known as Twan to his friends and family, joined the Army in 2000. Pringle said her son joined to earn money for college.

“Twan had a lot of goals in life,” She said. “He was very ambitious and very smart.”

Sgt. Walker had been in Iraq for about a year. He called his family often but didn’t want to talk about war. Instead, he talked about starting a real estate career and his three children.

“He was such a good dad,” his mother said. “All he wanted to do was make a good life for his kids.”

In April 2005, Walker wanted to talk about the fighting. He told his mother five soldiers he was traveling with were killed. His phone calls became more frequent after that.

Pringle said she had days when she couldn’t eat or sleep because of her worries. But she never forgot to give her son her support.

“I always told him I’m proud and be safe”.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

My Brain is Mush

November 27, 2007

If you were to snuggle up on the sofa to read; wrapping up in a warm blanket with a fire roaring in the fireplace, a glowing light over your shoulder… slowly opening the book, prepared to become engrossed in a tale from times long ago. Only to find each and every page is blank… 

Then you would understand my state of mind. Life is good. The fire in my heart is burning brightly; the blanket around my soul offers comfort; my family’s love offers a warm glow.

Yet, I find myself staring blankly at the tv, the book, the computer screen.

Perhaps it is induced by the months on end of constant worry. The endless stress of my Li’l Trooper at war kept my mind churning, often in too many contrasting directions to come up with any coherent thoughts. But, it was constant motion.

… And now… My mind has shut down. I am able to complete only the most routine tasks of day to day life.

Last night I grilled a couple steaks, cooked corn on the cob and rolls. Mr. J was so sweet when he asked if I had fixed any potatoes or rice, maybe a salad?  Any of which would have been a nice touch, had the thought of preparing them actually entered my mind.

I wonder how long I will muddle along in the fog before I am shocked back into the real world? I should be grateful for the lack of turmoil, content with the peace. Yet, I feel disconnected.

While my brain is on vacation… (no smart comments from the peanut section -P ) I will be here, but not as vocal.

I do have a special request. There is an awesome Soldier who could use our prayers right now. I do not want him to feel awkward, so I will not share all his woes. Would you please add Chris and his family to your prayers. They could really use some happy, some comfort, some joy in their lives right now.

Hugs Out!

Rally Behind the Troops

November 26, 2007

Move America Forward is once again asking us to rally behind the troops:

November 26 – December 16

Join Move America Forward for the “Honoring Heroes at the Holidays Tour” this November 26th – December 16th as we cross this nation holding pro-troop events in 40 cities across America to honor and salute the men and women of the U.S. military who will be thousands of miles away from their homes and families during this holiday season. (Help us pay for the cost of this effort by making a donation – HERE).


Along the tour we will be collecting more than 100,000 Christmas, Hanukkah and holiday greeting cards for our troops that we will deliver to them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get your kids involved, and invite local schools to participate! On the outside envelope be sure to write either: “Christmas Card for Our Troops” or “Hanukkah Card for Our Troops” or “Holiday Card for Our Troops.”

Hear what legendary TV personality, Ed McMahon, has to say about the effort – CLICK HERE to LISTEN.

Bring the cards to one of our 40 pro-troop holiday events along the route of the “Honoring Our Heroes at the Holidays Tour” – you can find our tour route and itinerary here:

View the Tentative Route/Itinerary – HERE


That will put the rally in Texas December 1st – 4th! I am very excited as this is the first time they have travelled thru Houston. The Houston location is yet to be determined, but they will be in town at 3:00pm on the 4th! If you are not along the route and would like to donate cards for the Troops, please leave me a message.

Check www.moveamericaforward.org  Please help to get the word out and turn out a great crowd.

I will be posting updates as they come across.

Giving Thanks…

November 21, 2007

This year as we prepare to give thanks, let us pause and thank the men and women in the Military who are separated from their loved ones. Let us take a moment to thank those who have served in the past. And let us remember those who died that we might be free.
I am so very thankful to have our Li’l Trooper sitting at the table with us this year!
I am so very thankful for our many friends and family.

And I am thankful to live in this country, where I am FREE!

The following email was sent to me this morning and I would like everyone to take a moment or two to read the words of Michelle Malkin. This article puts life in a proper perspective for me.

God Bless you and yours this Holiday season

Stop Before You Gripe

By Michelle Malkin

Before you blow your top about the holiday hassle at the airport, the long lines at the grocery store, all the hours you’ll spend cooking and cleaning, the uninvited guests who are crashing hubby’s football party, and the endless Christmas shopping list that awaits, just stop.Stop and think of the Johnson family. Army Spc. John Austin Johnson of El Paso, Texas, is recovering from massive head wounds sustained in an IED attack. Johnson is a member of Fort Bliss’ 4-1 Cavalry. He had survived five previous bombing incidents. That is not all.

Earlier this month, Johnson and his wife, Mona Lisa, buried their 9-year-old son, Tyler Anthony Johnson. The little boy had been on life support for several weeks after sustaining critical injuries in a horrible car accident. He was on his way with his family to see his dad in recuperation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He never made it. The family car rolled over several times after being hit by powerful blasts of wind. Tyler was laid to rest at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Benton, Ark. That is not all.

The Johnsons had two other children. Ashley Mishelle was 5 years old. Logan Wesley was 2. They were killed instantly in the same car crash that claimed their older brother’s life. During the funeral service, the Benton Courier reported, the program included Ashley Mishelle’s favorite song — Ashley Simpson’s ‘Pieces of Me’ — and Sarah McLachlan’s haunting ‘In the Arms of an Angel.’ White doves were donated by a retired military officer.

To lose one child is devastating enough. To lose three? While recovering from traumatic war injuries? And to bury three little angels just weeks before Thanksgiving? No parent can read of suffering like that of the Johnsons and indulge the petty, selfish complaints of holiday gripers and road-ragers. The complainers featured on the nightly news this week wallowing in self-pity over a few hours’ delay on the road or in the air need to get a grip, get over themselves and get some perspective.

C.S. Lewis wrote famously that ‘G-d whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’ Thankfully, countless citizens were roused by the Johnsons’ plight — and demonstrated that the American giving spirit lasts 365 days a year.

More than 200 Patriot Guard Riders, the volunteer band of motorcycle enthusiasts who provide protection during military funerals, served as Tyler’s pallbearers. The Patriot Guards traveled from Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana to attend. Anonymous donors provided the gravesites and markers for the children’s plots. That is not all.

Soldiers’ Angels provided hotel stays as needed for the Johnsons’ extended family in Dallas, a Brooke Army Medical Center official told the American Forces Press Service. The group also provided funding for food and other basic needs. The Dallas Veteran Service Organization and the Veterans of Foreign Wars pitched in with meals. Operation Comfort covered gas for rental cars, which were provided by Hertz and National. That is not all.

The Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles program provided travel for Johnson to get to his injured wife. American Airlines picked up the tab for the Johnsons to travel to their children’s funerals. The Professional Golfers Association raised $95,000 for a new car and other expenses. Operation Homefront will use leftover funds to build a permanent memorial playground in the children’s honor at Fort Bliss.

Before Thanksgiving brings out the worst in you, stop before you gripe. Give thanks for noisy houses, healthy children and overflowing company. Give thanks for bounteous tables, rambunctious friends and neighbors, life and limb. And give thanks for those who give of themselves — in service to our nation, in civic duty and in answer to His call — all year ’round. That is all.

My Heart is Full!

November 19, 2007

Oh what a day Thursday was… Where should I begin? The antsy stress that was building up while sitting in road construction on Hwy 290? The Excitement? the Anxiety? or even the nagging little worry that something could happen to him before they arrive?

It was that darn “Murphy’s Law” chewing away at my stomach… I knew I would not feel at ease until I was able to see my Li’l Trooper with my own eyes, wrap my arms around him and squeeze. Then and only then would I be able to exhale.

We made it to Ft. Hood with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, we did have not quite enough time to have lunch with Jess and baby Gene before the plane landed. Drats… -\

Thankfully Terri, of  A Soldier’s Mind was close by.  She was so wonderful with guiding us to the right gate at Ft Hood and then providing us with her knowledge of the events at hand, helping everything to run more smoothly in my jumbled thought process. 

THANK YOU, Terri! It was so nice of you to take the time to show us around and it was awesome meeting you!

There seemed to be electricity in the air. I could feel the energy of all the families who were waiting on their loved one. I grinned at the young girl who constantly asked her mom, “Where is Daddy?”

We wandered around making small talk… If someone said something important to me during that span, I can only apologize and ask you to try telling me again now. Nothing that was said to me, around me, or even about me sunk in. I was there… but not really. Everything was surreal, a complete dream state.

And then the buses… 

How can I begin to explain what I felt when the buses began to roll up to Cooper Field at Ft. Hood? People kept asking me if I was cold. I looked at my arms and noticed that I had goose bumps, but I didn’t even feel the chill in the air. My brain was fixated on just one thing… Seeing David live and in person. 

Seeing the buses and knowing our loved ones were aboard, the families were buzzing with excitement!

Shortly after David deployed to Iraq, I found  a video on the 1st Cav web site. (which of course I cannot find now) The reason I am bringing this up??? 

As the buses pulled away, leaving our Soldiers standing so proudly across the field from us, a song was playing over the speakers… It was the same song from the video that showed our Troopers boarding the plane for Iraq.

And I began to cry. No longer was my brain in a fog. No longer was this a dream. Right in front of us was the most heartwarming site. Mr. J. nudged me and grinned. No longer in constant worry mode, the tears of joy fell freely.  I quickly wiped them away and grabbed my camera. I could feel my heart beating in my chest. The weights had lifted. I was flying!   

Here is a couple shots of my Li’l Trooper and his buddy… (when we see him again next weekend, I will take the time to actually ask his name!)  

(Do you think they look happy to be home!?!?!?!)

One more with me …

And then I was able to meet some of the fabulous ladies of the FRG! 


Sharla, Jackie, and Jess thank you so much for all that you do thank you for coming to the field and helping us celebrate David’s homecoming. Ya’ll Rock!  (Becky, I hope I still get a chance to meet you!) The celebration will be complete when the rest of our guys are home.


Jess and baby Gene   

  Thank you Jess, for all of your kind words and help while David was away. I am honored to have your friendship. 

Here is a snap shot of the cool purse that Jess made for me! Jess, you have a wonderful talent!

I will close this post with a big Thank You to everyone for your support. It makes all the difference in the world having friends and family who help you thru the rough patches.

I will continue to blog… because… Well, there are many Soldiers and many stories. (and because it keeps me from talking to myself)

Good Grief… I almost forgot to mention… We shuttled David’s buddy, (I will insert his first name, when I get it… hehehe) ____ Thomas to the Houston airport. He grabbed a flight to Louisiana, arriving just in time to witness the birth of his son!

Congrats on the birth of baby T!

Welcome Home…

November 15, 2007

Today is the day!

Collective Soul is one of my all time favorite bands…

…And of course my Li’l Trooper is my favorite Soldier…

…So, I chose this video to say “Welcome Home” Son…


(If I am anywhere near a computer over the next 4 days, I will post pictures. Otherwise they will be posted Monday!)

Have a fantastic weekend!

Hugs Out!