Intrepid Center for Wounded Vets
This is from November 13, 2008. Reposted.
Today I had the privilege of accompanying Matt and Rich Franklin to The Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. This is a rehabilitation hospital for wounded veterans who are returning home to us after losing a limb or being badly burned. It is a new state of the art facility that was built entirely by private donations through the Interpid Fallen Heroes Fund. It was an event that will be aired on Spike TV during the UFN on December 10th at Fort Bragg. There will be a telethon to raise money to build another facility like the one in San Antonio.
What started out as an "I get to hang out with Matt Hughes for a few hours!!!" day turned into something else entirely. Rich arrived before Matt so I went and talked to the UFC PR person while watching Rich have his initial interview outside the building. Matt's flight was delayed so he didn't arrive until a little while afterwards. The crew took Rich upstairs to meet with a veteran who had been burned since he had to leave shortly after his rehab session was over. Matt arrived just as they were taking Rich upstairs. We waited on the first floor with the woman who is in charge of the telethon so I got to hear a little about the event and the reasons behind it. I had heard of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund before this but I didn't know we had a rehab facility in Texas funded by it. We went upstairs then to the 3rd and4th floors to meet with some of the veterans there. I had my camera with me so I took some pictures which I will share with you all. I was so impressed by the facility! It had everything that was needed to help these people get better and recover as much function as possible with their injuries. Our veterans deserve this kind of place, they deserve to have many more like it that can serve not just veterans returning from war but also retirees.
I have been a nurse for years now and have worked in a few different specialties including pediatric ER so I have seen some "stuff." The difference with today though was that all the other patients that I have seen were hurt by accidents or abuse. None of them volunteered to be at risk for their injuries. These men and women today enlisted in the military and went to war for their country, for their families, for us. None were drafted, this was a voluntary career choice. That really hit home. I was honored to spend time with these veterans and the medical staff that work with them. It was a humbling experience for me. I saw high spirits in everyone, no bitterness or anger. I am sure they each have their moments of a wide range of emotions but today I just saw optimism. I just know that I will think of this after today when I'm having a pity party for myself and remember that I truly have a charmed life. I was so happy when I saw the veterans laughing and joking with the guys. I even got to watch a few of them grapple with Matt and Rich after removing one or both prosthetic legs. Wow, were they strong!
There were T-shirts and autograph cards for everyone there. Some even had Matt and Rich sign their prosthesis! All around it was a great day for me and I hope that the veterans we visited with know that they touched my heart. Having been raised in a family that has long served in the military this was something that was very special to be a part of.
Afterwards we (Matt, Rich, the UFC PR lady Rachel, and I) went to eat sushi at a place down by the Riverwalk. I hadn't had *real* sushi before and hadn't used chopsticks before. I think the whole menu got ordered and I got to try it all. It was great! I have no idea what all I ate but I tried everything and didn't have one thing that I didn't like. I'm not a picky eater though so it didn't surprise me that I liked it.
Then we ended up driving to the airport because they all found they could catch earlier flights out. The driver took me back on base to get my car and that was the end of my day. I'm tired so I'm sure I will add more to this after thinking about it and reading responses to it. Overall I had a blast! I so forgot to be a fan of Matt's and Rich's that I didn't even remember to get a picture with Rich until we got to the aiport! I already have one with Matt so I didn't get one with him although I should have. Oh well, he has to come back to TX sometime. We are a pretty big state ya know.
My son made this for me: