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Posts Tagged ‘Team USA’

operation-homefront-veteran-johnsonPaul Johnson understands that you never know where life will take you, what doors will close, and the others that will open. One life changing journey began for Paul when he emigrated to the U.S. from England in 2000. He settled in New York City.

And then, on September 11, 2001…

After that day, Paul felt the need to answer the call on behalf of his “new country.” He attended fleet week, toured several Coast Guard vessels, and fell in love with the Coast Guard. He decided to join.

It was a perfect match. Paul loved his job. Not only was Paul protecting his adopted country against the drug trade, but he was also saving lives. Paul and his unit made countless rescues, many involved migrants desperate to reach America who jeopardized their lives trying to cross the seas in structures barely seaworthy. Many of those rescued exhibited the signs of what they would give for a new life. They were exhausted, hungry, dehydrated and frequently required medical attention.

In 2013, however, it was Paul who needed medical attention, as he suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in a shipboard accident. In addition to the TBI diagnosis, Paul was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a result, Paul’s dream of serving his country was ended with a medical discharge from the Coast Guard.

The loss in active duty pay caused a financial hardship, but rather than being deterred, Paul looked at his options. That is when he found Operation Homefront. Although he was not one to ask for assistance, his discussion with our caseworker made him feel like he had a sense of control, a voice in the process. Paul’s family received financial assistance for an auto payment, travel expenses, food, and later, a move to a home where they could focus on their future.

Now on more solid footing, Paul can reflect on the different direction his life has taken. Having a TBI has changed Paul’s life in both positive and negative ways. He became involved in adaptive athletics and that has opened up a wide world of new experiences for him. He has skydived in tandem and became a member of Team USA for the Invictus Games in England, the only Coast Guard member. He received a bronze medal in rowing. He is currently working with a Paralympic rower in a double scull with his eyes on the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Paul hopes that his participation on Team USA will inspire others to perform, believe, and move past their disabilities.

Vets-Day_blog_icontactPaul believes in the importance of understanding that one has options despite changes, injuries, and perceived inabilities. He tries to not think in terms of what he can’t do, but instead how he can do things in a different way.

Because he has been helpedby others so much in the past, Paul would like to get into the other side of service by doing peer counseling. To reach this goal, Paul is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Psychology.

But if we know Paul, he won’t stop there. He has learned that everything is a beginning, not an end.

If Paul’s example has inspired you to do something to help military families and wounded warriors, we invite you to join Operation Homefront and find your own way to answer the call. There are many stories like Paul’s, and they need help now. Visit www.OperationHomefront.net/AnswerTheCall

 

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Today’s Opening Ceremonies mark the official beginning of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, better known as the 2012 London Olympics.  Four billion people around the world are expected to tune in to see the parade of 10,000 athletes, watch the 15,000 performers, and celebrate the ceremonial start of the Games with the Lighting of the Olympic Torch.  Every two years, we unite as country and cheer for Team USA  as they represent our great country on the world stage.  This year’s games, like several before, we in the military community have a special source of pride.  Twenty members of the United States military will be among the American athletes walking in the parade and participating in the London games.

Army SFC Dremiel Byers is among many service members representing Team USA in this year’s Olympics and is a strong medal contender in his sport of Greco-Roman Wrestling.

Service members have been participating in the Olympics since 1896 as athletes and coaches in both the summer and winter games.  Over 600 soldiers have traded tan and green uniforms  for red and blue and represented the United States as coaches and athletes.  They have returned home, not with military decorations, but bearing more than 140 Olympic medals in boxing, wrestling, shooting, and track and field and many others.  After all, with a motto like Citius, Altius, Fortius, Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” who better to represent the United States than the men and women of our Armed Forces?

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Operation Homefront wishes our military Olympians and the rest of the American team good luck!  USA!

(Article by Rachel O’Hern, military spouse, a recent addition at Operation Homefront and all-around great gal!)

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