News: Wounded Warriors receive community support
Story by Sgt. Barry St. Clair
EL PASO, Texas - Wounded Warriors assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas, received medical screenings at a luncheon hosted by Las Palmas Del Sol Medical Center here March 8.
“Operation Homefront is a national non-profit that provides emergency financial assistance to E-1 to E-6 and their families when the service member is deployed, and serves all of our wounded Warriors,” said Ashley Engles-Ross, community liaison for Operation Homefront of Texas.
Collaboration between various groups with similar goals leverages resources for maximum benefit to the community as a whole.
“Operation Homefront and Del Sol Medical Center of El Paso partnered to serve Wounded Warriors in transition following injury or illness,” said Jacob Cintron, CEO of Del Sol Medical Center.
Several soldiers assigned to the WTB at Fort Bliss, Texas, attended the luncheon and received medical screenings.
Sgt. Valerie G. Whelton of Manistee, Mich., who attended the luncheon with her son Tucker Whelton, said “My loss of independence after my deployment to Iraq has been a challenge,”
The Aiken’s attended the luncheon together. Monica Aiken of San Diego, a former soldier, is going to college at El Paso Community College’s Transmountain campus and managing family affairs during her husband’s recovery.
“I am thankful to be reunited with my family here, since I was stationed in Germany and deployed from there,” said Shawn Aiken, a combat medic from Minneapolis. “I suffer from sever PTSD following two deployments; one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq.”
The Aikens are looking into a recumbent bicycle for Shawn Aiken so he can ride with the family again.
Spc. Kayla R. Hoff of Montpelier, N.D. is a wheeled vehicle mechanic for the Army, and a cancer survivor. She has been assigned to WTB for more than a year battling cancer. Her right leg was amputated below the knee last fall.
“Chemo sucks,” said Hoff. “After receiving the prosthesis, I was up walking the next day.”
Hoff weaned herself off of crutches and used machines to relearn to walk up stairs with her “new” leg. The expert medical assistance of the staff at the WTB has helped Warriors like Hoff work through
Hector Hernandez, transportation specialist with WTB, spoke of the unique attitude and stalwart work ethic of Hoff during Holiday events in 2012. “She was up at 2 a.m. cooking 25 turkeys for the WTB Thanksgiving dinner, said Hernandez. “She was carrying enough birds and charcoal to feed 350 people, all before she had her “new” leg. We [WTB] gave 400 toys at Christmas time to the children of wounded warriors. Hoff didn’t have her prosthesis yet, but she was down on her knees getting toys for Santa to give to the kids.”
The soldiers assigned to WTB continue their transition, some back to active units or the community with the support they receive from organizations like Operation Homefront of Texas and Del Sol Medical Center.
“What little we do today, and every day that we’re here for our military staff and their dependents, will never compare to what they have sacrificed for us and our country,” said Cintron.