Last night Ted, from HOMH, asked me what will the next blog be about. I told him what ever pops into my head tomorrow morning. Well I woke up this morning and all I could think about is how thankful I am for HOMH, Rideaway and Capt Phipps.
Captain Tammy Phipps is the only driving instructor in the Department of Defense. And we are blessed to have her here at WRAMC. Occupational Therapy recommends the soldiers to go visit Tammy and then she sets them up with a driving lesson schedule. HOMH talks to her about possible candidates and then Laurie enters the picture. I am so thankful Senator Lieberman stopped by yesterday because I snatched him up and introduced him to Chaz and then to Tammy and to HOMH and Rideaway and explained it all. I told him this is what you need to be talking about on the hill. These champions who are helping us fight our war on our road to our new normal. He said so I guess we need some more Capt Phipps huh?! I said yes sir because we have a lot more than one amputee who needs their independence back.
We met Laurie from HOMH the same day we met Dr Oz. Laurie comes in and meets with the families and assesses their needs and sees if HOMH can help or not. Then she reports back to the board and they decide who and how many they can help. I didn't know it at the time, but Laurie recorded me talking to Dr Oz. She told me days later when she called to tell us the board decided that when she saw me talking to Dr Oz she knew recording me and taking it back to the board was the right thing to do. Laurie told me that as I was talking to Dr Oz she wanted us to have that van as soon as possible.
So we were approved and the ball started rolling. HOMH got us in touch with Ride-away so we could get a rental van asap. Te'tro got us into a rental way faster than we ever thought could happen. It was so exciting. Chaz was discharging from the hospital and thanks to HOMH and Rideaway I was going to be able to drive Chaz to the airport to pick up my mom and our cuties from the airport. But first we went to the grocery store. You have no idea what it felt like to give him that freedom. From that day on, Chaz didn't need me to get into the vehicle. I simply clicked a button, the door opened and a ramp came out. He wheeled up and buckled, he or I pressed the button to pull the ramp back up and shut the door and we were off and running.
Before that day, I had to help get his wheelchair as close to the PT cruiser (provided by the Yellow Ribbon Fund) as possible. Then we put in a transfer board and then I helped him transfer. The boy may have lost his legs, but trust me he is not light at all. Unfortunately, Chaz only has one good limb left. Obviously his legs are gone, but his right arm is fused and really can't bare any weight on it. So that's where I come in. During the course of helping him get in and out of the vehicle or help him transfer to his chair, I pulled a few muscles and am pretty sure I cracked a rib. I should have bought stock in tylenol a long time ago!
We enjoyed our rental vans (we turned our first in when we went to TN and got another when we returned to WRAMC). But we of course we anxious to get our own. A few weeks ago we got to go watch our friends Scott and Laura get their new van and we knew our day was coming soon. Yesterday was the Allen family's big day.
My friends with vans are smiling with joy today because the Allens now own a van. I was a van snob. They just weren't for me. I am an SUV gal. But our lives have changed. Once I talked to my friend, Shauna who is also a HOMH recipient, about the van and what it did for her husband's morale I was sold. Chaz was hung up on getting him a truck. I was trying to talk to him about the van, but he was stuck on the truck. So one day, I finally said, ok you were injured, I got that, but the girls and I are a very big factor in all this. Believe it or not this injury is only medically about you, the rest is a family issue. This van could really be a gigantic help to our family. Please let's talk to these people and hear them out. Once he heard Shauna and Anthony talk about how much easier mobility had become he was in. So we moved on to Laurie and the rest of the HOMH family. For those who don't know me very well. I am am very direct and to the point, especially with my hubby.
Then there's Maureen from Rideaway. She is God's gift to bureaucracy. Since she is prior service she understands the system. I filled out once piece of paperwork for the VA and that is it. Maureen and Rideaway did the rest. Chaz just had to sign on the lines, get the keys and drive. It was so nice to have someone minimize the paperwork and make out lives a little easier. We all know about the government and their paperwork. But thanks to Maureen we barely did anything.
The girls LOVE the van. It has tons of room and it has a DVD player with headphones in it so they are in heaven. I love it because Chaz now can drive it. He presses the button, door opens, ramp comes down, he presses a switch to make the seat turn around and face him then presses that button to make him turn back around then he drives off. It is amazing!! One of the things that crossed my mind when he was injured was oh my goodness I'll have to be his driver, for the rest of our lives. I had no idea that such amazing people were already getting our soldiers back their independence. What an enormous blessing, this all is.
HOMH currently has one fundraiser a year. They are based out of Connecticut and they have a spin-a-thon there. Last year they raised $180,000 in one day!! How amazing is it that people who will more than likely never meet these soldiers believe in and support this cause? This is what should be on the news. Our media should be filled with stories of heroes raising money and helping our soldiers create their new normal. But no we have to hear about the new celebrity crisis.
I am pleased to report that yesterday four ladies who participate in the spin-a-thon were at our van presentation. Chaz and I were so happy to shake their hands and thank them for participating in raising the funds to help us move forward. People never realize how something that may seem so small can actually be huge to someone else. These fabulous people turned the spinning classes that they love into a way to help others. How incredibly brilliant is that?!
So today please say a prayer of thanks for HOMH, Rideaway and Capt Phipps. Pray that Senator Lieberman heard my words and will become an advocate for this program. God is listening and can make great things happen. These people are absolutely amazing and already have a special place in heaven. God sees and knows about their great works. He has amazing things planned for them. Chaz and I are so blessed that we can be a part of it.