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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Valour-IT: Finding a new normal

A common comment from Valour-IT recipients is that the technology offers a new way to do something that they were able to do before their injuries but now find impossible or simply exhausting. Our wounded warriors simply can't do some things the "old way", and Valour IT enables a new way. A new normal.

I shared this story with friends via email Thursday night, and Cassandra of Team Marine Corps wrote about him today, too.

Please read to the end of this post and find the link to the long write-up on Bryan at Esquire in January 2008, two years after he received his laptop and a year after being Esquire's cover story. SGT Bryan Anderson offers you an extended window on his world and the ongoing challenges of being a wounded vet.
Have a look?

From the November 2005 request for a Valour IT voice-activated laptop for triple amputee, SGT Bryan Anderson:

It was the last day of Valour-IT's first Veterans Day (2005) fundraiser, when I was still stunned by its success and thrilled Valour-IT was now a viable project. Amid that emotion, arrived an email requesting a laptop for Bryan:

'...He has a long road ahead of him. His mother said that they are doing everything for him and it is getting very frustrating for him. He wants to talk to his friends but he just is not ready to do it yet. With this laptop he will be able to communicate with family and friends and will be able to do it without the help of anyone. This is going to be the first step in showing him that he will be able to do things on his own.'

Less than four months later, in February 2006, Bryan was walking. The same correspondent shared:

B[ryan] came in town for a benefit dinner to help raise funds for his family. He walked into the room with his prosthetic legs, he was smiling and overwhelmed at the support he and his family received...

The laptop was the first step to the road to recovery. It proved that he was going to be able to do all the things that he did before.'

And today, out of the blue, I found him on the cover of Esquire. As my correspondent predicted, he did do all the things he'd done before... and so much more:

I've been wakeboarding, water-skiing, jet-skiing, tubing, rock climbing, snow skiing, playing catch with my brother. I try to do the same things. I'm not going to let it stop me. We did a 110-mile bike ride from Gettysburg to Washington, D. C. Sixty miles the first day, fifty miles the second day. Hand cycle, three wheels. I ended up ripping the glove, breaking the hand, breaking the whole socket. I might do it a little differently, but I'm still going to do it...
He knows who he is:
This doesn't define me. It may be how I look on the outside, but it's not who I am. I guess you could remember me easily as being a triple amputee, but it's not who I am, has nothing to do with who I am. I've always been the same person..'

And I discovered that Bryan continued to share his story here in Esquire Magazine.

It’s a long road, but you can help with that first step.

Special thanks to Brian Mockenhaupt at Esquire for writing about Bryan's story.

Click on the thermometer widget below to make a credit card donation today!

Address for donations by check or through PayPal are at the bottom of the page HERE.

[Note: 100% of all donations go to the purchase of Valour IT equipment. Soldiers' Angels is an IRS-designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Donations are tax-deductible and may be eligible for matching funds from donors' employers (ask your employer). Consult your tax advisor for details.]

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