Lowe’s workers stay late to fix vet’s wheelchair

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NEW YORK –  Three employees at a Lowe’s store on New York’s Staten Island stayed well past closing time last week to repair a Vietnam veteran’s wheelchair that he asked the Veterans Administration to replace two years ago.

“They said, ‘You’re not leaving till it’s like new again,'” Michael Sulsona, the double-amputee veteran, said. The wheelchair apparently broke down in the store.

Sulsona, 62, who said up to that point he heard nothing from the VA about a replacement chair, but felt uplifted by the workers at the store. He sent a letter to his local newspaper, The Staten Island Advance, to publicly thank the employees who stayed at the store well past 10 p.m. and didn’t charge him anything.

“I kept thanking them and all they could say was, ‘It was our honor,'” he wrote. “The actions of these three employees at Lowe’s showed me there are some who still believe in stepping to the plate. … Someone needed help and they felt privileged to be given the opportunity.”

Sulsona, an ex-Marine, said he lost his legs in 1971 when he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam. After his letter to the newspaper, the VA got word of Sulsona and sent him a brand-new wheelchair Tuesday.

Sulsona’s new chair arrived in the wake of months of scandal in the VA’s health care unit over complaints nationwide of long wait times and poor patient care.

“We were very grateful that this was brought to our attention,” said VA spokesman Jim Blue with the VA New York/New Jersey Healthcare Network. “Too many veterans wait too long to receive their health care and benefits and this has never been acceptable.”

In a statement, Chris DiMaria, store manager at the Staten Island Lowe’s, said he couldn’t “be more proud of his team or company.”

Sulsona said he is enjoying his new wheelchair and likened it to getting a new car. But he criticized the red tape that held up his new chair.

“This whole story is based around three good guys,” Sulsona said. “I think it’s really important that we all be like these people who wanted to help me; things would be so much easier.”

Source: Fox News

Service Dog is Hero to U.S. Army Veteran

It has been the mission of Kent Phyfe, retired SFC of US Army, to support an organization that not only provides service dogs to Veterans who have medical need, but also played a large part in saving his own life.

Service dog Iris is Kent’s hero in so many ways. Learn how you can make a difference by providing support with a donation to America’s VetDogs.

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Kent’s Story…
I was medically retired from the Army and felt the pain of rejection because I could no longer do what I was trained to do. Having been the sharp edge of the sword as one of the best of the best, Airborne Infantry Ranger, then Special Forces, only to find that I could no longer do my job because I was physically unable was almost too much to bear. The anger of the past along with the continued progression of my malady continued to eat away at my self worth.

By the time my doctors recommended that I look into getting a service dog I was toying with the open end of my .45 everyday. I felt like a prisoner in my home, unable to function, needing someone to watch me like I was a baby.  The loss of my driver’s license because of seizures had such an impact that I gained weight and lost interest in everything.

I applied for Service Dogs through a number of organizations but America’s VetDogs was the only one that came through for me and made it affordable by donating the dog to me at no cost.  Something they do for every Veteran!

Iris would wake me for the first time to stop a seizure our 5th day together. Since that time she continues to alert me of health issues, calls the ambulance, has brought my family back together, stopped me from becoming a statistic, and has helped me have a goal in life again.  Because of Iris I was also able to get my license back.

Iris not only helps with the physical issues that I have, she has helped with everything I come in contact with. Her being with me everywhere I go opens conversations that I would never have engaged in prior to having her with me.  When I have nightmares, she wakes me up. For some reason I never come up swinging like I do with people. We are truly a team that is there for each other, no questions, just like being in a foxhole.

I am 100% disabled and not allowed to work which allows me to dedicate my time to finding ways to raise awareness and money so that other veterans who need service dogs will be able to experience the joys I have. Recently I purchased a camper that is wrapped with a personal campaign to raise awareness and money everywhere Iris and I travel. Our bucket list is to give back tenfold and it will still not be enough to repay what has been gifted to me.

All of this and so much more has happened because of this little rescue out of Georgia who has become my rescuer. The gift of living was given to me. I still have all the medical issues but now life is worth living.

See Kent’s photos and follow his blog about the travels with Iris at http://kphyfe.blogspot.com.

Kent’s goal in his campaign is to raise $20,000 for America’s VetDogs. Please help us support Kent and this organization by donating at http://kent.VetDogs.org.

Make a donation that can change a life…

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The Last Ride – A Father’s Tribute to Kennedy Ann Hansen

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Published online: Jun 14, 2014
FEATURE BY JASON HANSEN

This Father’s Day we want to express our gratitude for our fathers and the traditions we both share and learned from them. Written by Jason Hansen, this is a memoir of the final days of Kennedy Ann Hansen, and their rides together.

I can barely type. I have been putting this off, not wanting to do this until it was really time. Some know, and some do not know, that Kennedy and her dad’s favorite thing in the entire world was our Saturday TRUCK RIDES!

The smile on her face, the thrill and sound of the diesel engine. Kennedy screaming “Faster, dad, faster!” and then the two of us singing every word—except for the swear word, of course—in Toby Keith’s “Who’s Your Daddy?” and “Beer for My Horses”. These rides would take us different places, but we always would end up at a gas station and would buy a Coke!

I came home yesterday and, under the conditions, I looked at my wife, and said, “There is only one more thing that I want to do with her, and we need to do it today. I need to take her on our last ride, while she understands.”

Kennedy perked up and groaned out a little groan. She wanted to go, she loves these rides and as of late, we have not been able to have them. So, I fired up the truck and pulled it around front. I WILL NEVER forget the feelings in my heart or hers as I scooped her up in my arms and we both began to cry. I gently laid her in the front seat and with every ounce of courage had to whisper in her ear that this would be The Last Ride. As she cried, I cried and we all knew who were there, that these cries were not for pain… She absolutely knew and understood the event taking place.

We brought Heather to take pictures and to help hold Kennedy in place. We rolled down the windows and blasted our favorite two songs. Kennedy gently reached over and motioned for my hand. We clasped as tight as we could. The minute that the song “Beer for My Horses” came on, Kennedy reached her hand in the air, to mimic riding a horse. The funniest part about that song is that when she was able to sing, she would sing, “Root Beer for My Horses.” She was trying to sing; she was trying to smile.

We pulled into her favorite gas station, Maverik, and I asked her what flavor of Icee she wanted. She motioned, “None.” Then she reached toward me to pull me to her. I completely lost it as she held me. Heather had to get out of the truck to take pictures. Kennedy kissed me and rubbed my arm. She knew and understood that there wass something so special about our truck rides, about a man, his truck, and his daughter.

We began our drive back home and played the songs again. She put her head back and let the wind hit her face and her hair. Heather and I were sobbing. I did not want to return home. I wanted to drive and drive and drive and drive. But, I knew that this was The Last Ride, and that I needed to return her to her comfort zone, and the many visitors at our home.

We pulled in the driveway and many came out to our aid. All were offering to lift her and help transport her out of the truck. But, this was dad’s moment, this was our ride, our time, and my little girl giving me The Last Ride. I gently told them I wanted to transport her myself, and scooped her into my arms, holding her tight. I did not want the moment to end. I did not want it to go away. I knew right there and then, that was The Last Ride. Kennedy took a big breath, and again gave me a kiss. Many watching were tearful. I gently set her in her wheelchair and had to walk away.

The day of The Last Ride was something I really knew would come, but never wanted. It seems as if this last year that she has been on The Last Ride. She has taught so much; given back all she has had in her; and has reached as far as she has known how.

I woke up several times last night, breathing heavy and crying in my sleep. My tears and sobs awoke myself. But, what is amazing is finally at about 3 a.m., my little boy, Beau, heard my cries and came and crawled into bed next to me. He laid his little head on my shoulder. He snuggled against me and wrapped his arms around me. As I felt his comfort, I realized how much we still have to live for and how much we still have to accomplish. Heather was asleep in Kennedy’s room and Anna downstairs. I thought of each of them and of our future. It occurred to me that from there on, and as we lose Kennedy shortly, we will have The Last Ride within our family. A ride that if we participate, if we jump in and experience, live, love and try as hard as we can to live right…we will be reunited together as a family.

Time to get ready for The Last Ride and that brings us so much peace and joy!

Love, A broken hearted but Happy.
Dad (Jason Hansen)

Kennedy passed shortly after The Last Ride on May 30, 2014. For more information on Kennedy and her lifelong struggle with Terminal Juvenile Batten Disease.

Source: Diesel Tech Magazine

Heroic Teen Saves Disabled Vets From Arkansas Tornado

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – A story of heroism is emerging out of the deadly tornadoes that struck the Little Rock, Arkansas area Sunday, April 27th. Christian Gunter, 19, made sure 10 disabled veterans made it to safety as the storm barreled through a long-term care facility in Vilonia.

Gunter, who manages the home for mentally and physically disabled ex-soldiers, discussed his actions this afternoon with Gretchen Carlson. He explained that he was already there when the tornado came through.

Gunter made sure he got all the vets loaded into a vehicle and transported to a church about a mile away that serves as a storm shelter. The home sustained major damage as parts of the roof were torn off.

“It’s always our priority to take the best care of them that we can possibly do. Our guys have risked a lot and it’s a great opportunity for us to help them out,” he said.

Gunter’s home was destroyed by the twister.

Source: Fox News Insider

Who is the student who pounced on the Seattle gunman? A hero, many say

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(CNN) — Jon Meis’ reported habit of carrying pepper spray may have saved students’ lives after a man opened fire at a Seattle college.

The shooter had just wounded three people Thursday, one of whom died. He was reloading his shotgun when Meis, a volunteer security guard, saw an opening. He doused the gunman with the spray and tackled him to the ground. Other students at Seattle Pacific University piled on and took the weapon away from suspected shooter Aaron Ybarra, 26, police said.

Officers are convinced the bloodshed at the Christian school would have been worse had Meis and the others not intervened.

“I wasn’t surprised to see he was the hero — his resourcefulness, love for others and knowledge of the greater good are what defines him, in my mind,” Andrew Van Ness told CNN in an e-mail. Van Ness said Meis enjoyed playing a campus “humans versus zombies” game organized by the school’s Student Union Board, finishing in the top 10 both times the game was held.

On Thursday, Meis appeared shaken, at moments on the verge of tears, when ambulances arrived to tend to the wounded. Medics put him on a stretcher and took him to a hospital to check him over.

Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg didn’t identify Meis by name but said a man believed to be the student hero was thoroughly evaluated and released. He had no injuries, she said. Police would not give out his name, but one of his friends was quick to point him out to CNN affiliate KOMO and pour out his gratitude.

“I could have been one of these people that was injured or in critical condition,” said Meis’ friend Patrick Maguire. “A lot of (students) were in that building, and he stopped him in the lobby. He didn’t get any farther than that. I’m grateful for him, yeah.”

Meis, an engineering student, has a reputation for keeping a low profile, not seeking attention, The Seattle Times reported. He is known as a devout Christian and an excellent student. Meis’ sister told the newspaper that the family wasn’t commenting for the moment. But he hasn’t been able to dodge the social media limelight, which has plastered his name and photos across the Internet with emphatic kudos.

“Hero” was the common refrain.

Source: CNN.com

Officer gives his boots to homeless man

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ODESSA, Texas – Jeremy Walsh is an officer in Odessa, Texas. While on his patrol, he has met AJ, a homeless man. Walsh noticed that he was no longer wearing his steel-toed Dockers as they fell apart on him and had nothing to protect his previously frostbitten feet.

Walsh brought him a pair of his own personal boots from home so AJ’s feet can be warm and safe from more frostbite.

Source: CNN.com

Zoos bring smiles to hospitalized children’s faces

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LOS ANGELES – Fourteen accredited zoos across the nation are participating in a program that brings the zoo to hospitalized children. Smaller animals are brought into safe areas of the hospital for the kids to see and touch, larger animals are shown through actual footage while sharing fun facts.

            These children suffer from illnesses varying from cancer, kidney problems or simply a broken leg, but these programs provided by the zoos offer a temporary distraction.

Source: AP.org

Deaf athlete inspires the nation

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SEATTLE, Wash.,- Derrick Coleman, fullback for the Seattle Seahawks, is an inspiration to young athletes being a second-year player making it to the Super Bowl, but his inspiration goes much deeper.

            Coleman has been deaf since the age of three. When others doubted his ability to make it into college and pro football leagues, his parents stood by his side and encouraged him.

            Now, Coleman is not only an inspiration to athletes, but to others that have a setback as he does. He proves that anything is possible with determination.

Source: ESPN.com

Humble vet proudly served our country

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ENGLEWOOD, Co.,- Doug may seem like your average hardworking businessman, but once you get to know him, his past is incredible. He doesn’t talk about it unless you push him for information.

     Doug served our country in Vietnam in the 1960’s. His main duty was to go out with another scout at night and walk the rice ladies and jungles for enemy positions. During the war, he was exposed to Agent Orange, which was used to clear out the plants on enemy lines, and later found out it increases rates of cancer, and nerve, digestive, skin and respiratory disorders. He also ruptured his eardrums, was bombed and shot at, and that’s just what he’ll tell you about. He protected our country and asked for nothing in return. My appreciation for our men and women serving our country grows with me each day and Doug is truly my hero. It is an honor to call him a friend.

 

Airline surprises passengers with gifts

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CALGARY, Alberta, Can.,- Canadian Airlines West Jet set up a virtual Santa kiosk in their terminal for customers to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

     Upon their arrival to Calgary, as they awaited their luggage, wrapped presents lined the baggage claim with wrapped gifts for those that participated in the virtual Santa machine. Gifts ranged from big screen televisions, cameras, airfare home for the holidays, tablets, to even socks and scarves.

 

Source: CNN