Kevin Kammerdeiner, the story of a Wounded Warrior.

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Re: News about Matt and his Warrior Buddy Kevin...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun May 10, 2009 5:24 pm

SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2009
Day 343 - May 9, 2009

Kevin and I actually went and did something fun today. We went to a safari that you drive through and this time Kevin made a new friend. Two actually, lol.

Kevin just loved it when the zebras were all over him. And it was hilarious because after the one was eating out of his hand Kevin curled his middle finger and made it appear like the zebra ate the end of it off and he started acting like he was suffering. It was so funny!

And then this ostrich came running over to the car because we had the window down and Kevin playfully freaked out while trying to hurry and put up the window. After he got it up the whole way I snapped a photo and Kevin continued to act like it was such a close call. Hence, the second photo with the funny face.

We really did have a good time and I vowed to do something every day while we have to be here. Not sure what's on the agenda yet for tomorrow, but I'll find something. I think it's a necessary diversion, don't you think?

After we got home we had some dinner and then we went outside and I allowed Kevin to walk quite a bit and I told him he was on his own, that I wasn't going to hold on anymore. He seems to do better when I don't hold on - probably because he has to. So I am going to remove his 'safety net' and make him learn his balance better. Of course, I will probably second guess this when he falls for the first time, but that's part of the process, I guess.

And I am sitting in the bathroom again writing this and I can hear Kevin in the bedroom practicing his words. He's just going through the list, but he gets quiet for a while sometimes while he tries to remember another one he might know. We haven't had speech therapy since we got here so I am glad to hear him doing it.

And speaking of the list of words, it is also in a box somewhere. Katherine, our speech pathologist, gave me his complete list and as soon as I find it I will type it all out for you guys. I remember someone asking for it a while ago.

And now my battery is almost dead so I need to sign off.
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Re: News about Matt and his Warrior Buddy Kevin...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon May 11, 2009 11:55 am

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2009
Day 344 - May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful moms out there!

Kevin and I stayed home tonight and I actually cooked a nice dinner for us. We didn't really do anything at all today except go to Wal-Mart. Kev was adamant that we go so I figured he wanted to get me a card or something for Mother's Day. I was right, so I left him and hid around the corner and he picked out a card and went up to pay for it himself. Unfortunately, he handed the cashier his debit card and he doesn't know his pin number so I had to go up and act like I couldn't find him and help him out.

After he paid, he wanted to sit and sign the card and he made me leave. I, again, knew what he wanted to do and knew he didn't have a pen, but he didn't realize that yet. So I went about 20 feet behind him and watched him realize he needed something to write with and I went back up to him under the pretense of telling him I couldn't remember what I wanted to buy. He made the motion of the pen and I gave him one and miraculously remembered what I needed and I walked away again.

Here is a pic of him signing the card. My heart just melted.



After he signed it he wanted to give it to me right away. I was already teary eyed and I really lost it when I pulled it out of the envelope and it was a Winnie the Pooh "Congratulations" card and not a Mother's Day card. It just showed me all the more how precious it is that my son can think enough to know to buy me a card, even if he can't really read what's in it. It totally amazed me that he tried to do this all by himself to surprise me. Can you just imagine how strange it must be to be out there in the world doing something and you can't read or understand everything that is going on around you?

And then - we got back to the Fisher House and he must've realized that he didn't write LOVE, KEVIN on it (he just put KEVIN). He kept saying the word LOVE while holding the already opened card and a pen. So I wrote Love on a piece of paper so that he could copy it and he did so while I started dinner and he re-licked it so that I could open it again. Imagine my surprise that this time he had put $40 in it!! I have no idea where he got the idea to do that, but I cried again. What a sweetheart, huh?

And tonight Kevin and I went for a walk. I told y'all yesterday that I wasn't holding on anymore and I didn't. I took all of these pics with my phone.



This last picture shows how far it is to the hospital. Kevin actually walked about that distance tonight, with only 1 short break. I was so impressed and so proud.

Amazing, right?
Last edited by Chalkperson on Wed Sep 23, 2009 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: News about Matt and his Warrior Buddy Kevin...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 12, 2009 1:17 am

TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2009
Day 345 - May 11, 2009

Today was a pretty uneventful day. Kevin apparently wiped himself out yesterday with all that walking and didn't do his PT or much of anything else. He mostly slept all day.

We did find out that our case manager here at BAMC still hasn't done the paperwork to request our return trip home and frankly - I am starting to get pissed off. We have been here a week and a half already for no good reason. Just send us home already!! I really don't understand why he just won't get the paperwork done!

And here's a question some of you may be able to answer...can we just leave? Can we just drive back to FL? I mean, we aren't technically having any therapy (Pam is just working on his arm out of the goodness of her heart), so do we have to stay here? We have no appointments, no scheduled surgeries, nothing. Do we have to wait for the Army to send us home or can we just leave? I would really like the answer to that question because we really just want to go home (we were supposed to go home last Thursday and now he is saying it won't be before this Thursday). This one room thing is just killing us both. It would be different if Kevin was 'all there' mentally, but he just isn't enough for me to leave him up in the room all by himself for any length of time. And frankly - my butt hurts from sitting on the lid to the toilet all the time. It's the only place I can go to have a light on to write the blog and read while Kevin is sleeping. I don't think I have ever spent so much time in the bathroom in my life!

Well, time to read the fourth book I have read since we got here. I really wish I would've had The Shack and My Stroke of Insight while I was here. I could've at least gotten them both read...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Thu May 14, 2009 10:54 pm

Matt's mom has not posted in a while so i've re-named the Thread...

Today, I received a beautiful e-mail from Leslie, Kevin's Mom, she wanted to know how my wife (Starr) was doing, she wrote it from the bathroom of the tiny room that she and Kevin are sharing whilst they are in the Military Hospital in Texas (where Corlyss was Born), I was amazed she found the time, but, was glad that she did...when Starr got sick and was on Life Support with only a 50/50 chance of making it I reached out to all my friends, you guys at CMG came thru in Spades and my other friends offered support in any way I needed, Col. Bob said I could "lean" on him , but, I felt so close to Kevin and Leslie that I decided to tell them too, it worked, Starr managed to somehow stay alive, luckily for both of us, but Kevin and his Mom were the role models for me during the first few (dark) days when Starr was in the Induced Coma...anyway I was thrilled she wrote so that's my little bit of news, i'm off to Florida to see Starr tomorrow, and I hope to be able to go to Pittsburgh when Kevin gets his Purple Heart later on this Summer, I think a few of his Internet Friends will show up, this kid and his mom are absolutely incredible, the courage they both show is an inspiration to us all...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 19, 2009 7:00 pm

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2009
Day 348 - May 14, 2009

We are HOME!! I got the call at about 7am and we had to be at the hospital by noon today. I can't begin to tell y'all how wonderful it is to be home. Kevin was just one happy person all day. What a transformation.

And I am not going to write anything much tonight because we just spent the day in flight and I am too tired to type a lot.

In the meantime, you may all remember that we had lunch with my friend Janet last week and I would like to ask that everyone keep her son, Matt, in their thoughts for a little bit. He had surgery today and it didn't turn out as they had hoped. He will be fine, but it just could've been better.

Catch everyone tomorrow.

Oh - and to the person that asked where we would like to be on day 365 - home in PA. I am working on that right now - there's a little thing called convalescent leave and I have put in for it. If we get it, Kevin and I are driving to PA and it is my goal to be there on his anniversary. He wants to come home so bad and I do too.

Wish us luck!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 19, 2009 7:01 pm

Day 351 - May 17, 2009

Today I left Kevin with my parents for the afternoon and I went and did some shopping. I was supposed to do something fun, but I was still a little blah after all of the emotions from last night so I didn't plan ahead and find something 'fun' to do. So I just shopped for things that Kevin doesn't have the patience to look at. Boring!

Other than that, Kevin did a lot of sleeping today. I think he's trying to catch up because he really hasn't been sleeping well lately. He tries - he really does - it just doesn't work some nights. I suppose it's part of a brain injury...

And I do believe we will be coming home to EB this week sometime. I don't have specifics because of his leave not being approved yet, but I want to take the time to explain/request some things before we get there.

Basically - this post is to prepare everyone for Kevin.

First - Kevin can't handle a lot of noise or stimulation. I don't mention it much, but we really do sit in a silent environment about 95% of the time. Very rarely does he watch tv with the sound on (if he has it on it is muted), maybe once every two weeks he will listen to the radio in the car, he doesn't even touch his iPod anymore and most of the time he can't handle a lot of people around. This is not to say he is reclusive because sometimes he is just awesome to be around - laughing and joking and having a good time - it's just that those times are rare throughout the day. I always focus on them though because it keeps us going.

Second - Kevin has no social niceties and if he is over-stimulated he will just wheel/walk away. Don't take offense - it's just him taking care of himself.

Third - I have no idea what (or who) Kevin is going to remember and what (or who) he's not. Please don't be hurt if he doesn't remember you or things you have done together. He honestly can't help it.

Fourth - remember that Kevin can't really be in the sun much. If you see us outside, we won't be out there long and we won't be able to 'chat' unless we go inside.

Fifth - I have no idea how Kevin is going to handle seeing his friends while knowing how much he has changed. The hardest part will be him not being able to talk and it won't surprise me if he takes it hard for the first couple of days. The next thing is going to be how different he looks. He may slide into a depressed mood while we are there and if that happens - we will leave for FL earlier than expected.

Sixth - remember that he can't read everything and doesn't know all of the normal basic things. He also often gets confused. I asked him to turn the light off twice yesterday and he had no idea what that meant. He's come a long way - but he still has a long way to go. And I would like to request that you just take it in stride if he is confused and not laugh at him.

I only ask that everyone understand that Kevin is very different than he used to be - yet in so many ways he is still the same ol' Kev. Don't be afraid to approach him, but just be aware that he's changed.

And I know...I'm being too protective...but honestly - he may not be able to handle all of this and I need all of us to be prepared for it. I am preparing myself too because I go through it all with him and if this trip is rough for him, then it's going to be rough on me too. I have to go in with my eyes wide open and ready for all possibilities and this is my way of doing that.

So sorry if I have offended anyone by asking for special considerations - it's just that I know everyone is going to be as excited to see us as we are to see you and I just needed to put the changes in Kevin out there.


Now keep your fingers crossed that we get 30 days leave and not 15 (or I should say leave at all - you just never know). 15 will mean a whirlwind trip with barely any time there. 30 will give us a week or two. We do need to come home to FL and rest before heading back to Texas before the middle of June so I do want to try to be back here around the 2nd or 3rd...
Last edited by Chalkperson on Tue May 19, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue May 19, 2009 7:02 pm

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009
Day 352 - May 18, 2009

Yay! We are going home! We only got 15 days leave so I am hurrying around here getting everything ready to leave in the morning. I so wish we would've had the extra time, but that's a whole different story and I don't have time to get into it right now.

I do need to cut this short because I still have so much to do. I am still packing, doing laundry, trying to get Kevin to go to sleep and cleaning out the fridge, etc.

We ended up having to rent a car because the check engine light came on in the van, so we are cruising in style (so glad I asked for a free upgrade :-) ) and I surely hope that Kevin can handle the lengthy ride.

And as an FYI - if I don't write tomorrow night it's because the hotel we will end up staying at won't have free wi-fi. Usually they all do, but I am just warning everyone in case...

So, did I mention we are FINALLY GOING HOME???!!!!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed May 20, 2009 7:16 pm

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009
Day 353 - May 19, 2009

The question shouldn't have been whether Kevin could handle the ride - but could I? Holy crap! He just wanted me to drive straight through and there was no way. I am old. I am tired. And my body hurts from sitting in the same position all day.

He, on the other hand, gets to recline in his seat, has pillows under his head, his shoes off and has total control of the radio and everything else in the vehicle. He was even telling me how to drive - pass, don't let that car pass you, don't stop to pee, you name it.

I tell ya - he has it made. I don't think any of us should feel bad for him anymore - y'all should feel bad for ME! LOL!!

So needless to say - we are on the North side of Charlotte, NC and we should make it home in the evening sometime tomorrow. We drove about 10 hours today and I really could've handled it if Kevin would have let me sleep last night. I think he was just so excited to go home that he was wound really tight. But, because he didn't allow me to sleep - I am signing off very early and going to bed.

And before I forget - to the locals of EB - Kevin will be occupied on Sat night and I will be out with Moe and the gang - so stop by either the Allstars or the Cloud and see me. I couldn't advertise it when I went home the last time because it was a birthday surprise trip (not to mention that it was very last minute) - but this time, I sure hope to see everyone!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun May 24, 2009 1:08 pm

This is Sunday, Kevin is back home in Pittsburgh for ten days, he is having a great time and his Mom is posting losts of Photos each day, so, until you see the next Journal entry please click on the link, CMG has a problem for me posting Photos from a Mac, I don't want to eat up valuable space on the Server, so, go to his site and scroll down and see all his old friends, they named the Local Skateboard Park after him, so take a look and expect to smile a lot, and, also consider what he has lost...Memorial Day is tomorrow so let's keep all our thoughts on the young men and women who chose to Serve their Country and have paid the ultimate price for that decision...

http://www.lesliekamm.blogspot.com/
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed May 27, 2009 9:24 am

Leslie has posted more Photos from Kevin's visit back home but she also posted this list, it's all the words Kevin has taught himself to say, given that the Doctors expected him to learn very few words I think he is doing great, here they are...

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2009
Day 360 - May 26, 2009


And I keep needing reminded about the list of words so here goes. I am sure I am going to miss some of them because the list is somewhere in a box at home:

Hi
Bye
Thanks
Thank you
Geez
Gawd
What?
No
Yes
We're not worthy (from the Wayne's World movie)
Hey you guys (from The Goonies movie)
Hello
Oh! Dawgs! (with a British accent - no clue if this is from a movie or what)
Open up
How long?
No way
I love you
I love you, Mom
Mom
Brianna (sounds like Bonna)
Why?
Hola (spanish for hello)
Money
Ow
Hey
Oooh
Ball
Water
Love
Dena (one of his nurses)
DeeDee (another nurse)
Steelers
Yep
Okay

I am sure I am missing a few...

He was able to say drink for about 3 days but hasn't been able to for months now. It's very strange because he gets stuck and just can't get past something. Like when he tries to say anyone's name it comes out as Mom because he is always calling me. I sure hope this gets better in time. It's so hard watching him try to say something and he just can't.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat May 30, 2009 11:15 pm

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2009
Day 364 - May 30, 2009


Tomorrow is the day...

But I just can't think about it yet.

So, we are smack dab in the middle of South Carolina tonight. Don't ask me the name of the town as I would have no idea, but the desk clerk told me we weren't near Georgia yet. Darn. I sure wish we were closer to home.

But we did drive about 12 hours today so it shouldn't be too bad for the rest of the trip. I'm glad. I am forcing myself not to think about what tomorrow marks until I do get home and can give it free rein. I can't be bawling in front of Kevin, now can I?

And now I am off to bed. Another short post as I am just so tired.
Today is Day 364, tomorrow is the First Anniversary of his being part of a Suicide Truck Bombing in Afghanistan...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:47 am

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2009
Day 365 - May 31, 2009


It was somewhere around 2:30ish on a Saturday afternoon and I saw that Breezy was calling my work phone. I thought that was odd, because we had just talked a little while before while I was at lunch, but I answered anyway. She was crying and I couldn't really understand what she was saying. I finally realized that she was telling me to just come outside and I remember thinking - for goodness sake - I am so tired of all the drama with her and her boyfriend. It never once occurred to me that it could be anything else.

But, I did walk outside to see what was going on and she was just holding her stomach and sobbing and screaming "I can't tell you! I can't say the words! I just can't tell you!" I honestly just had no idea what was going on. I finally got her to stand still long enough for her to really look at me and she just broke. She handed me this piece of paper with a phone number on it and said that Kevin had been injured.

I went into shock first and then denial. There was just no way. How would she find out before me?

But she did (and that's a whole different story).

So her and I ran back into the office that I worked in with the rest of my department and I remember slamming the door and we were both crying so loud and shaking so badly. Matter of fact, my hands were shaking so violently that it took many tries to get the phone number dialed. I had to keep hanging up and trying again and finally I had Breezy hold my wrist still long enough for me to punch in the numbers.

I did manage to get through and talk to someone at whatever department of the Army they had me call and he just told me that at that point Kevin was alive, but that his wounds were extremely severe and he was in very critical condition. They listed all of his injuries and it turns out that the list was in no way accurate.

I was still shaking so bad and just crying and I honestly just couldn't imagine being the person on the other end of the line. I remember thinking about that at the time that he was telling me things - my mind was just going off into all different directions - and I realized that I needed to write everything down. I had to have Breezy write it all because I truly couldn't even hold a pen.

I think I lost a bit of time at about now because I don't remember what happened next, but somehow I just shut everything down and started to leave work. I didn't care that my day wasn't done - but I did try to tell a supervisor and when she couldn't acknowledge me because she was on the phone - I just started to leave.

As I was headed for the door - my friend Cathy saw us and I think she new immediately. I'm sure she (and everyone) assumed the worst, but I did tell them he was still alive. Cathy took me and Breezy home and from there - I couldn't tell you. I have no idea how long she stayed. I know that I called my family - but I don't remember doing it. I assume I called Moe and everyone else too - but I don't remember that either.

I do vaguely remember people coming in and out. Personally - I just wanted everyone to get lost. I know a couple of Breezy's friends came over and one of them just kept talking about going out and how they had to figure out where they were going that night and I think I told Breezy to get her the hell out of my house. I know that so many of my friends came too, as did my sister. I really just wanted everyone to go home.

I know that I didn't sleep for days. I was told I could call every 8 hours and get an update, but I admit that I did call more often than that. They never had anything new to tell me anyway, but the unknowing was just killing me and I had to do something.

That was probably the worst part. If I had been a wealthy person - I probably would have been on a plane to Landstuhl (sp) Germany to see him. I just needed to see him and make sure he really was alive. To make sure he was okay. It was unfathomable to me that my baby was so seriously wounded all the way on the other side of the world and I couldn't do a damn thing about it. I mean seriously - maybe they made a mistake, right?

But we all know they didn't.

I think I lay in the fetal position in my master bath on my pink shag rug for hours over the next couple of days. It was the only place I could go that people would just leave me alone. I do remember one time someone knocking on the door and I just screamed for them to go away and leave me alone and it turned out to be Breezy. She came in and we just held each other and sobbed for such a long time while laying there on the floor. She was the only person that could even begin to understand what this was like. Her and Kevin had always been so close and I knew she would never make it through this if the worst should happen - she had already lost so many people around her - including her best friend.

You guys just can't imagine the despair. You wonder if he is going to make it. And how you will live if he doesn't. And things are just foggy sometimes because it's like you are a zombie. And then there's the disbelief - I mean this really can't be happening, right? It's just someone's idea of a sick joke. Or it is a mistake. And then there's anger - I mean how can they send 19 year old kids over to place like that? How can they not train them better? Longer? And sometimes this little ray of hope shines through - just not very often. It's often enough to keep us going though and that's all we need.

We pretty much all know what happened next. It took 2 days for me to see my son. Cathy drove us to the airport and upon arrival, our liaison took us straight to the hospital. As I mentioned in my post on June 4 of last year - I did faint immediately upon seeing Kevin. I just couldn't imagine this person being my baby. This person had no lips and goggles on and a ventilator and was completely covered in bandages. Only his toes stuck out. I didn't think it was Kevin - there was so much hope there that maybe they really did make a mistake - but Breezy told me to look at the toes - they were definitely Kevin's. Darn her for being so sensible when I needed to think that the Army messed up and Kevin was somewhere eating slop in a tent.

I can't begin to tell everyone how horrifying those days were. We have had so many horrible days in the past year, but I have to be, and am, thankful that Kevin is still alive.

To Andrew's family and to James' family too - we ended up being lucky and I am so incredibly sorry that it didn't work out that way for you. I did cry a lot on the ride home today and it wasn't because of what we have lost - I am the type of person that will always make the best of what I've got - but it was because of the loss of both Andrew and James. For all of the horror that we went through - we, at least, had a possible light at the end of the tunnel. You did not. I just want you all to know that your boys will never be forgotten by anyone in my family and if there is anything that we can ever do for any of you - please don't hesitate to ask. I also sincerely hope that your pain has lessened in the past year and I wish a full recovery for Daniel and as any mother would wish for - for Kevin too.

May James and Andrew Rest in Peace.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:29 pm

I just got a hold of these websites, they are for Andrew and James, two Warriors who were killed in the Bombing in which Kevin was wounded, check them out, they died exactly one year ago today...

James Finlay...very little is known about him...

http://www.militarycity.com/valor/3560372.html

Andrew Jon Shields...his site has lots of photos of his Body being Escorted Home, his Memorial Service and Funeral...

http://www.iraqwarheroes.com/shieldsaj.htm

Here is a note from his Aunt to Kevin's Mom...
Hey Les....

Thanks for the good, sobbing cry this morning! LOL. Seriously though, you took me back to that Saturday, 365 days ago, and the phone call I received from my brother, telling me the news. I felt shock, anger, disbelief, then just sobbed. This wasn't happening. I wouldn't believe it. He was supposed to come home. Nothing was supposed to happen to him. For God's sake, he was only 19 years old! This wasn't supposed to happen! Someone made a mistake....

But then we had the terrible job of going over and telling our parents, Andrew's Grammy & Grandpa. I will NEVER forget my mother's screaming cry. The minute she opened the door and saw me, both my brothers and sister-in-laws and nieces and nephew, she knew. I will NEVER forget those minutes, hours and days after. Never. Our familes, as well as James' and Daniel's, have been thru hell this last year, lest in different ways. But in no way is anyone suffering any more or any less. But we will always have each other. Please know that you can always call us if you need anything. Kevin has come so far in this last year and has accomplished so much. We are all so very proud of him. And your and Breezy's strength and determination inspire everyone out here. We love you guys.

Healing and positive thoughts for Kevin and his new journey this year. Strength and comfort for Leslie and Breezy.
Safe thoughts for all military personnel and strength for their familes.

BIG HUGS AND ALL MY LOVE TO ALL OF YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew's Aunt Jodi
And one from Daniel's, he was the other Warrior in the Humvee who survived the Suicide Bombing...
I will never forget that day !!!

I got a phone call that day from the FRG and they told me that Dan lost hs legs and that he is fighting with his life.
I cant really say how many hours I cried or what I did after I hang up ..
I remember talking to Dans mom but the rest of my memory is gone ...
It seems like I was running on audiopilot for the next days.

On the 3rd of June I went to the Hospital in Landstuhl.
And I am sooo emberrassed to say that when I walked into Dan's room I literally dropped the floor.
It was the most horrifying moment in my life.
I really thought I was prepared...

The FRG told me about his burns and about his legs but they also told me about that he is pickin on nurses again.

I walked into his room with his favorite chocolate... but honestly NOTHING could ever prepare you for seeing only gauze and tubes.
It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.

1 year later we have to be soooo thankful that Dan & Kev are doing soo great.
Its amazing and I cant be happier more to see how the guys are doing.
We knew it would be a looooooong way to go and its not over yet.
But we have our guys around us.

Leslie, Breezy and Kev - u guys will always have a huge spot of my heart.
And I sooo cant wait to hug u guys one day in person !!!

James & Andrew RIP
Finally, this Site has the 5,084 Warriors who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan...

http://www.iraqwarheroes.org/index.htm
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:54 pm

Here are three photos from Andrew's Website, two Fire Trucks Salute the Plane bringing his Casket home, then two Fire Trucks at the entrance to the Cemetery, he was a Volunteer Fireman, lastly the folding of the Flag...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:31 am

TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2009
Day 366 - June 1, 2009

It really is amazing all of the changes in Kevin since we went back to PA for a vacation. It was almost like watching him remember who he was. Our first drive back to Brady was spent with Kevin pointing and exclaiming about the things he was seeing. When we first got there, he was determined to walk into the grocery store (our first stop) and I just loved watching his face when he would see someone he knew. He walked all around that store, from the front to the very back - including all the coolers - and he was just so darn excited to be there.

I really do think that Kev felt more like himself than he has since he was wounded. I think that he did forget huge chunks of his life and he needed a trip home to remind him. Just seeing him goof around with his friends and try to do an ollie and playing with my nephew Michael and Ronnie's little brother made me almost feel like Kevin was normal - and I'm sure he even felt more normal too.

I will tell you that our ride back to Florida was totally different than our ride to PA too. On the way we listened to the radio maybe 15 minutes in 18 hours and Kevin only watched half a movie. It was utterly silent - just like most of our days were.

On the way back to Florida - we listened to the radio about 3 hours and Kevin was just singing and dancing along to Lady Marmalade and Back in Black and all the other oldies that he chose to listen to. Sometimes he would turn on a hip hop song and he would turn his hat around and do his gangsta moves. It was just such a fun trip and we really did laugh a lot.

Another great thing that happened is that Kev now goes into the Men's Room by himself and I have to say - THANK GOODNESS!! I so hated having to go in there to help him - it was just so embarrassing. (Matter of fact, tonight at Wal-mart, Kevin told me he had to go to the bathroom and then he took off to the front of the store to take care of business. He came back a while later like nothing was out of the ordinary.)

I am also so excited to tell you that we did not get Kevin's wheelchair out of the car the whole two days of our drive home. Not once. He walked everywhere and I was so utterly proud of him.

(I should insert that the reason our trip took so long is because each bathroom stop takes at least 20 - 30 minutes. He is still slow at walking and doing everything he needs to do in the bathroom. I am getting really good at lurking outside (so better than inside) the men's room, lol)

Due to all his progresses, I am hoping that by July he can handle a commercial flight. I know that he can medically, it's just that those flights are so unpredictable (delays, etc) and also so loud. I am very sure we would have to do first class to keep the noise level down, but my other concern is how tiny the bathrooms are. I'm not sure he could do what he needs to do in such tight quarters. It's just not easy for him to bend his legs and move certain ways yet. Oh well, I guess we'll see. Truthfully - I don't think either one of us minded the drive. That Chrysler 300 was sure a smooth ride, lol.

So now we're home and he was in a great mood all day. We had my parents come for dinner and Kevin carried on with them the whole time. I had him do laundry too while me and my folks unpacked all the master suite stuff.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Werner » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:54 am

After a horrible year. this progress is wonderful to read about. Who can not feel with this mother and family in all they have lived through?

Words don't cover it.............
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:42 am

TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 2009
Day 367 - Jun 2, 2009


Kevin is sleeping in his new room tonight. My mom and dad and I put his humongous bed together and we unpacked all of his things. His bed is a California King so it really is quite large and he looks so lost laying in it, lol.

To be honest, we didn't really do anything today. I am taking this week and trying to get the rest of our things unpacked and put away. We hung a few of the pictures up and just organized his bedroom.

And I am so excited to say that they finally began to put in the pool today. I am hoping by the time we get back from Texas it will be completed.

And speaking of Texas, it looks like we will be heading there next Thursdayish. Kevin will be having two surgeries the following week on his chin and lip. I don't really know anything more than that, other than we will be there until roughly July 2 (Breezy's birthday). I was really hoping they would do his eye first, but I guess not.

And that about sums up our day. Tomorrow - we are doing nothing. NOTHING! I want to just veg out and rest. Sure hope it happens...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:48 pm

FRIDAY, JUNE 5, 2009
Day 370 - Jun 5, 2009

This being on 'vacation' is kinda nice, lol. We really didn't do much again today. I have been trying to get some kind of acknowledgment of Kevin's Purple Heart Ceremony and I am struggling with it. Our liaison told me to hurry and get her a date and that was nearly two months ago. Now I just need to find out what to do and what the protocol is.

Does anybody out there in the black void know? I have never been to one and I have no idea what needs to be planned and if the Army needs to 'be there' or if just those that I invite need to come. I don't know if the Army has to have any say in it at all or if I can just do what I want.

I was told by a civilian that any of the soldiers from Kevin's unit can come and at the Army's expense - is that true? Most of them are in Germany and I know none of them would be able to afford it if they had to pay for it, but I do feel it would mean so much more to Kev (and the rest of them) if his buddies could come. Does anyone know if this is true?

And is it normal to have a luncheon/dinner afterward? And if so - who foots the bill for it? Me? That would be a little bit hard on my income (haha - what's an income?) and I sure don't think Kevin should have to pay for his own ceremonial dinner.

And can he wear his Class A's? (is that what the formal uniform is called?) Or does he have to wear the camouflage uniform?

I did contact the Sgt that was in charge in Afghanistan and I have asked him to pin the medal on Kevin. He is a great guy and I think he should have the honor being that he was there when the attack occurred.

And I was told that an officer has to 'read' the award so our liaison will be doing that as she is a Captain and Kevin has a good relationship with her.

I also wonder if I should call the local Legion Posts and VFWs? Do they need to be notified?

So many questions - absolutely no one to turn to.

I wish there was some kind of anonymous Army hotline...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jun 07, 2009 10:01 pm

So here is a photo of Kevin from his recent trip home to Pittsburgh, this is just one year later than the horrific incident that nearly claimed his life...he looks pretty damn good I think...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:42 pm

Here is a picture of Kevin in Afghanistan with sun cream on his nose, the Soldier on his right is Andrew, he died in the Suicide Bombing...the second group shot has Kevin on the right and his Buddy "Too Tall" on the Left...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jun 13, 2009 1:04 pm

FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2009
Day 377 - Jun 12, 2009


Kevin is doing so much better this time around. We had to go for all the pre-admission testing today and he really did well. He was getting a little antsy near the end, but he still did very well.

He is also handling the Fisher House situation much better as well. It still has to be dark in here, but I am allowed to lay in bed with the computer now instead of having to sit in the bathroom. I still can't talk or have the tv on, but that's ok - I can at least do things on the computer.

I want to finally get around to answering some questions/comments as my email is really piling up.

To the anon poster who asked if I was worried about Kevin flying in regards to the shunt - nope. We have flown three times now to Texas and back with no problems. The cabin pressure is the same on a commercial airliner as it is in a Lear jet so I foresee no problems on that end. The only things I am worried about are the bathroom situation and the noise level. He seems to be able to handle the constant hum of the plane, but he doesn't tolerate 'people' noises very well. He has gotten somewhat better though, so we shall see...

Sue - thanks for telling me about the Injured Soldier Program. I will definitely be calling TSA. I also think it's sad that they didn't even inform you of your son's Purple Heart award ceremony. They did want to do Kevin's while he was in a coma, but I had them wait until he got better. I am so glad I did that.

Jenna - thanks so much for the caregivers information. I sure hope they do something fast. It makes my heart hurt to not have an income and to not have any type of insurance.

Tracey from the Burgh - Yes, Kevin's therapists were all surprised at his progress. The doctors were even more so! I had a nurse come up to me and she told me that there are two guys that keep them all going - keep them knowing that anything is possible - Kevin is one and Ann's son Mark is the other (Ann sometimes posts here).

Brenda, I hear ya' about not drinking before going on our flight. There is no restroom on that Lear jet so I eat and drink NOTHING before flying. They always tell me that I can use a urinal if I really need to go, but there is no privacy. I think I'll pass on that, thank you very much.

Jessica Canham - Kevin is very excited about the surgeries. I don't think I explained what is going to happen, but they are going to cut all of the scar tissue off and put cadaver skin in place for 3 or 4 days. He will have another surgery on Thursday where they will remove the cadaver skin and apply his own donor skin. We are both so excited because he will finally be able to hold his head up and he should stop drooling all over the place. Right now, his lip is so far down his face that he can't hold the drool or any food correctly in his mouth.

And I guess they plan on keeping us here in Texas for 10-14 days after the second surgery.

Chalkie - I sure hope I get to meet you someday. Thanks for the info about the Purple Heart and I don't think Manhattan is THAT far, lol. (The kids and I went there right before Kevin left for Basic Training. We had fun as it was our first vacation in a very long time). PS - how is your wife doing?

Anita (and everyone else that has went through this whole horrible ordeal) - at least we all know that there is someone else out there that understands the absolute terror we have faced. It doesn't make you feel quite so along maybe. I think we all hold fear in our hearts from the day our guys/gals sign on the dotted line. I know I did. And it truly does become tenfold once they deploy, doesn't it? I am so sorry for all the lost and for all the wounded. It's just a sad, sad thing...

Patricia - damn, girl! That post from day 364 was awesome.

Michelle Long - yes, Kevin will be in the Riverfest parade as well. We have him in the very front of the parade just in case he can't handle all of the stimulation. Hope we see you there.

Ok - I have made a HUGE dent in my inbox, so now I am heading to bed...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:37 pm

SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2009
Day 379 - Jun 14, 2009


It's very hard to find things to do when you can't be outside in the sun. I have to admit that I hate shopping and I am really getting tired of going to Wal-mart or the mall to have somewhere to take Kevin. He's really not the type of guy to go to aquariums and museums and that means we are just so limited.

So today we went to the mall. It turns out the sales clerk rang up all the shorts that didn't fit yesterday and we left all the right sized ones at the store. Grrr.

And I must say Kevin is very grumpy today. I am assuming it's part nerves due to his surgery in the morning and part us being here in this little room. I sure hope he handles being back in the hospital for the duration. This could be really rough.

Well, I am cutting this short to try to get to sleep myself. We have to get up at 4:30 in order for Kevin to have a shower with the special soap before going to the hospital.

Wish us luck!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:58 am

MONDAY, JUNE 15, 2009
Day 380 - Jun 15, 2009

Well, according to the docs the surgery went well. They tell us that Kevin's chin looked fantastic before they covered it with all the bandages and whatever else is piled on that thing covering a good portion of his face. One super great thing is that they also did his neck at the same time. They only intended to do his chin, so this is one less reason to have to come back here for more surgery.

They are also talking about doing his eye on Thursday, but I am not so sure about that. Kevin is in a lot of pain and I'm not sure he can handle having this much pain in two different places - one quite sizable. The neck/chin area covers about a 6x4 inch spot. Also, donor sites hurt more than this so we will have that to contend with too.

And now it's lights out for us. I am staying at the hospital with Kev tonight because of the communication barrier, and I actually didn't sleep a wink last night so I am running on empty.

Real quick - Tom - that story was a good read. An all too familiar one, but still a good read. Thanks!

And Tandra - your friends are at the Fisher House in Bethesda, but we are at one of the ones in San Antonio, TX. I wish I could meet with them and console them, but we are half a country away.

And now I am off to bed. I sure hope he feels better tomorrow. And I don't have the heart to tell him he has to go through all of this again on Thursday...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Jun 18, 2009 1:29 am

THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2009
Day 382 - Jun 17, 2009

We ended up still staying at the hospital tonight. Kevin's face is very inflamed around the bandage so they kept us here to control any possible problems. We did draw blood and his white count is ok so it doesn't appear to be an infection, but still we just don't know.

Unfortunately, he has been taking a whole lot of pain medication and I assume it will be this way for days yet. We did manage to get him in the shower today, but it didn't seem to really make him feel better and I was hoping it would. He's not really eating much either, but who could with your face that sore?

It's times like this when I just think that life is really so unfair. Here's a 20 year old kid that did something that he felt was right and look how it turned out - in the hospital for a year, loss of nearly half of his brain, broken bones, internal bleeding, and burns that, once healed, require plastic surgery to make him look as close to normal as they can get.

I really just want all of this over with so we can get on with our lives. I know that I am exhausted and I haven't been through half of what Kevin has. Oh well, we have more surgeries to go and many years worth of therapy so I guess I'll do what our friendly "Herd" guy says - wipe the sweat and drive on!

Yep - just wipe the sweat and drive on...although it would be real nice if the rag could dry in between wipes. This one's been soaked for a year already!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:34 am

THURSDAY, JUNE 18, 2009
Day 383 - Jun 18, 2009

Kevin is suffering a lot tonight. They tell me the surgery went well, but all I see is this huge dressing stitched to his face and now his eye is stitched shut with a bolster (not a ballast, I knew that wasn't right but couldn't think of the right word) too.

They did put a feeding tube in him as well, but it got curled in his stomach and after trying to reposition it a few times, they took it out and will do mild sedation tomorrow and put it back in. In the meantime, he is hooked up to an IV so that he doesn't dehydrate.

And I haven't broken the news to him that these dressings need to stay on for 7 days. Man, he is not going to like that.

I am actually a little worried tonight too because his vitals are through the roof. I have never seen his blood pressure so high and his heart rate is pretty elevated too. They did medicate him for the blood pressure, so hopefully it works and it comes down soon. He also has a mild fever - not quite a hundred, but it still worries me.

And now I am going to call it an early night. My little cot doesn't offer even remotely any form of luxurious sleep, but it's still calling my name.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:17 am

SUNDAY, JUNE 21, 2009
Day 386 - Jun 21, 2009

They hooked Kevin up to a 24 hour IV drip to keep him nourished. His state of mind seemed a little better today, but he ate less today than the last two days.

He did get up a couple of times and he tried to walk around some, but he really just isn't eating enough to go very far. His muscles are also getting stiff from not being used.

Breezy has been here every day to give me time to get a shower and usually I take a nap of sorts, but today she stayed for a good 6 hours to give me a real break. I went to a movie and just drove around for a while. It was nice to be out in the sun instead of in dark hospital room.

And I want to say that the nursing staff here has been wonderful and they are being so tolerant of me 'living' in the hospital room with Kevin.

And speaking of hospitals, someone anonymously posted a comment that the VA hospital we were in needed to test 10,000 soldiers for Hepatitis due to 'unclean' equipment. I researched this and found it to be many VA hospitals and the one in Tampa wasn't listed - one in Miami was - but not in Tampa. All of the people that needed tested have already been (from what I am gathering) and the results are in.

And today we made the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. You can view the article by clicking here. I think it turned out very nice, although we all know Breezy has been here all along - up until the last month or two. And I have to laugh - if they only knew that the photo on the first page was taken by my 6 year old nephew, lol. Michael was so excited to see his work in print and now is asking for a paycheck, hehe.

And now I am going to end this post with a photo of Kevin right now - with his bolsters on. If you are faint-hearted - I would suggest not looking. I have really debated on whether or not to show this, but you guys have all been along for the ride and I figured it might clear a lot of the questions up on why he's not eating (partially anyway).
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:12 am

These posts are from another Soldiers Mom's Blog, her son is very badly burned...
Ft. Sam Houston is a place of healing, pain, love, caring, miracles and sadly death. All those involved in the care of our dear soldiers deserve all the love and compassion we give to our soldiers because they too must suffer when one of those they cared for passes. Life is so very very short and we all should care about each other and enjoy as much of life as we can and never leave this earth without telling those we love how much we love them.
I am so glad that your son is doing so well. I hope and pray he doesn't have any more complications. Thankyou to all the people who take care of our wounded soldiers. It takes special people to do that job as it does to be a soldier. Soldiers are so special. I have been keeping up with SFC Kevin Dupont and I am so sorry for the loss of him. I am so sad for his family. It's a great loss and a great loss of each and every soldier. It's so sad the loss of the young man with the 2 young children. I am so sorry. Thanks for telling us a little bit about the Army Hospital and everything. I am so gratefull for our soldiers and their service and sacrifices that they and their families make on a daily basis.
Today was a pretty sad day. There have been quite a many deaths since we have been here this past year. I have met families of some and have just heard about others. Some accidental, some suicides, some from the injuries they have sustained. It is always sobering when the flag is at half mast. It is a tight community here on this part of the Ft. Sam Houston post. The barracks for the outpatiented soldiers that don't have family here, the hotel lodging and Fisher Houses, the CFI (Center for the Intrepid, therapy building), BAMC (the hospital), and WSFC (Warrior and Family Support Center) are all grouped together, within walking distance of one another. Shuttles are provided to go from one building to the other for the wounded or those just not wanting to walk the distance. We pass one another so often that even if we don't know one another, faces become familiar. Today there was a memorial for a soldier that we actually had gotten to know. He was a precious soldier who loved his family deeply. His room was next to ours in this Fisher House until about 2 weeks ago when he moved into the barracks. His wife was leaving and he would be joining her soon. He was just about to be medically retired, June 11th, but he passed away June 7th. He got here in '07 because of his war injuries. He was only 29, with 2 young boys under 2 and a young wife. I was taken by surprise when I saw his photo today, outside the chapel in the hospital, placed there for his memorial, for I had no idea of his passing. His death is still under investigation, but it appears he may have accidentally taken too much medication. His video game controls were still in his hands when he was found.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:27 pm

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2009
Day 391 - Jun 24, 2009

Tomorrow is the day. Tomorrow those horrible bolsters get removed and hopefully Kevin will be able to handle the fact that he is going to look pretty bad yet. The doctors are assuming that the inflammation around the bolsters is going to scar and that they will then need to have us come back and repair that sometime down the road - kinda blend his new and old skin together. They mentioned a dremel (gasp!) and that sounds pretty horrible to me.

Other than that, we had a decent day. His moods are way up and down, but I suppose it's all the paid meds. And we are back on a cheesecake kick so he should start putting some weight on again, lol. And tonight Kevin actually ate some chinese food so he is definitely feeling better.

I sure hope we get to go home soon though. We really just want to get back to our own beds and I just want a home cooked meal. But at this point, I guess I'll settle for getting discharged and staying at the Fisher House.

And now I am heading to bed. I have been working on some stuff with Tracy for the Purple Heart ceremony and I am kinda tired. She did remind me to let everyone know that if it happens to rain that day the ceremony will be held at the Community Center in East Brady instead. Hopefully it doesn't rain though!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:39 pm

Day 392 - Jun 25, 2009

Today ended up being a really good day. Kevin did get his bolsters removed this morning and although it still looks rough - it does look much better than I thought it would. I actually cried when Kevin first smiled at me because I forgot. I totally forgot about that goofy little smile where his lips are actually closed and he kinda has this shitty little grin. How could I have forgotten, I wonder?

His eye is still very swollen, but all in all he really does look great and within a month he will probably really look wonderful. I am just so excited to see he has a real chin and a whole separate neck. I am just so pleased with the doctors that did this surgery.

Here is a photo of what he looks like today:


Kevin was also discharged today - YAY!!

And he ate so much food from Long John Silvers that I was getting sick just watching him, lol.

We have an appt Monday at the Burn Clinic and hopefully they will tell us we can go home. I really want to be there by the 4th - in time for Kevin's birthday on the 6th. We are estimating leaving here on Breezy's birthday - which is the 2nd.

And to answer a question - we will have to come back in either Aug or Sept for one more surgery (maybe 2 in the same week again? not sure) At that time they plan to fix his head, his trach spot and a large indentation below his abdomen. They tell me all of these things are simple and won't require this kind of intrusion. At that time they will also fix any skin discoloration from this surgery.

It's kinda exciting to think we may be almost done with all of this stuff. That would only leave us with therapy and a normal type of schedule will be so welcome!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:09 pm

Wow! I'll say! Comparatively speaking, he looks great, esp. with that smile on his face. The other picture took my breath away. It was like Hollywood make up for a horror movie.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jun 27, 2009 9:47 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Wow! I'll say! Comparatively speaking, he looks great, esp. with that smile on his face. The other picture took my breath away. It was like Hollywood make up for a horror movie.
I thought long and hard about posting the first picture, but i'm glad I did, look at his eyes in the second one, the kid's doing great...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Donald Isler » Sat Jun 27, 2009 10:38 pm

Yes, he really starts to look good! This is a great improvement, and I hope he feels better because of it.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:06 am

SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2009
Day 394 - Jun 27, 2009

For some reason Kevin has been getting car sick since this surgery. I don't know if it's the heat here in TX or the motion, but we can't go more than a few minutes in the car. We tried to go to an outlet mall about a half hour away and we didn't get very far before we had to pull over - and not even just anywhere - it had to be somewhere silent (try to find that in the heart of San Antonio!). I did manage to find a gated community and we just pulled in to the gate and turned around and sat in the exit lane. I really didn't know what else to do.

And Kevin actually rolled over tonight. Sounds so dumb, doesn't it? But it was a major feat for him to be able to roll onto his bad side, then to his belly and then back over onto his back. He was just so proud of himself. I personally couldn't figure out what he was doing because it was dark in the room and I couldn't really see him, lol. He was sure making a lot of noise though.

And I had to laugh at Joyce's comment about Chick-fil-A. We have never tried their cheesecake, but Kevin is so hooked on that place. He eats 3 chicken sandwiches at a time and it was what he woke up wanting this morning.

Yesterday he wanted Longhorn Steakhouse (we finally figured it out by him saying "yeehaw", lol), but they don't have those around here - not that I've seen anyway. I told him we'd go there for his birthday next week if we are home in FL.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get some pictures of him because his chin/neck is already starting to look better. The redness is going away some and the swelling is going down. Unfortunately his eye is still very swollen, but I know it's all going to take time.

And now I think I will sneak to the kitchen and make some popcorn - my total weakness!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:17 pm

MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2009
Day 395 - Jun 28, 2009

We finally made it to the outlet mall today. We stopped on the way and ate so that Kev was out of the car some. We only shopped for clothes and shoes for him and he really had a good time at the Zoo York store. It's his favorite skate line of clothing and I think he was in heaven while there, lol. (although it felt like hell because their air conditioner broke a while ago and it was the normal 100 degrees here today)

And here's a funny little thing - last night when I went to the kitchen for my popcorn, I encountered a snake in the hallway on my way back to our room. YIKES! I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES!! I called security to have them come and get it, but I wouldn't let it out of my sight until they got here. It kept getting close to the door of the room and I would have to fling it away with a magazine. Obviously it was just a really small thing, but still...I DO NOT LIKE SNAKES!

Other than that, nothing much happened today. Kevin and I are mad at each other right now because I told him he needs to start either getting up and doing nonsensical stuff himself or he can just forget about the issues. I am getting real tired of getting up just to shut the bathroom door or just to fix the corner of his bed sheet or to shave him at midnight or gosh knows whatever other crazy ideas he gets. I realize OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a major part of TBI, but frankly - I am too old and tired to get up 40 times every hour to do things that just don't matter (or that can wait until a normal hour). And besides, he is getting well enough now that he can get up and do more on his own, right? Right!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jun 30, 2009 10:29 am

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2009
Day 396 - Jun 29, 2009

We had our post-op check up today and Kevin passed with flying colors! We have been released, so now we play the waiting game for our flight home.

I am really amazed at how well the new skin on his chin matches the rest of his face. And the lower part of his neck is already flush with the rest of his skin. I expect superb results in the end and I am told it will take about 2 months for it to all be healed and any touch-ups will be done in August when we come back for the rest of his surgeries.

Anyway, here are some photos from yesterday that show how much improvement just from the other day. Amazing, huh? This first one is just him outside the Fisher House:



And this one was taken at TGI Fridays. Kevin's whalin' along to the music - something we so rarely get to see.

And now I am going to fold the laundry and then I am going to try to finish watching Slumdog Millionaire. It's been a 3 day event so far and I am still only halfway through it.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jul 04, 2009 1:27 am

Friday, July 3, 2009
Day 400 - Jul 3, 2009

YAY!!!!


Kevin did so well today on our flight! It was like being with someone almost normal and I am just so dang proud of him! I must tell you too, how awesome Southwest Airlines was with us today.

First, at the airport in San Antonio, the clerk came over and talked with us for about 10 minutes or more and then he made an announcement just before boarding asking everyone to give a standing ovation to a war hero - Kevin. He told the tale of Kev being in the hospital for a year and how this was his first commercial flight. I started crying like a baby! Kevin (of course) ate it up.

We then boarded first amid all this cheering and the crew asked all the familes with children to go farther back the plane so as not to over-stimulate Kevin.

During the whole flight the stewardesses spoiled him rotten and when they learned it was his birthday on Monday they got on the horn and had the whole plane sing "Happy Birthday" to him.

When we were getting ready to land, they got back on the microphone and asked everyone to sit until Kevin had departed and then asked everyone to remain seated until all of the rest of the military personnel had deboarded.

And when we did depart from the plane, we had to wait for them to get his wheelchair and while the rest of the people from the plane got off and walked past - almost all of them said either "Happy Birthday, Kevin" or "Thank You For Your Service".

I can be honest and say that I was very heart-warmed to see a group of people care so much about a stranger. It was just an all around great flight and I am so thankful that we chose Southwest. And I am so thankful that Kevin could handle the flight and I feel like it's another hurdle jumped.

Lookout World! Here we come!!!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:14 am

Sunday, July 5, 2009
Day 401 - Jul 4, 2009

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day! We had a nice barbecue with my parents and that was about it. Kevin went to sleep very early tonight - so no fireworks for us, but he woke up vomiting a while ago. My first instinct was 'shunt malfunction', but I am not seeing the swelling of his head yet. Man, I sure hope that isn't it. He didn't seem groggy when he woke up and usually when his shunt does quit working his eyes are glassy and he is kinda out of it so maybe that's not it.

I guess we should all just keep our fingers crossed that it's just something he ate or just some little bug and not the signs of something major.

And I'm going to cut this short because it is very late...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jul 07, 2009 9:46 am

Happy 21st Birthday, Kevin!!!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:46 am

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Day 406 - Jul 9, 2009

I am so tired tonight so I am just going to leave y'all with a bunch of photos that were taken this week. I just couldn't sleep last night at all - I was so upset about Kevin 'losing' his driver's license.

So anyway, the first photo here is of Kevin buying ice cream from the truck that drives around town almost every night. This was the first time we were able to catch him! Kevin was just so excited - like a little kid!

This one is Kevin with Maritza (Joel's mom). They sure love each other!



This one is a picture of Kevin with Joel.



We had went up to the ward the other day to visit everyone as we haven't been there in so long. Everyone was so excited to see the changes in Kevin and I know we were both excited to see the people that have been our family for so long. I sure miss V and Maritza and Grisel and Dena - and truthfully - so many others that were such a part of our life. We are having a little belated birthday party on Sunday for Kev and Breezy so hopefully we get to see some of them then!

And as a reminder to myself to tell y'all about it - I have decided to hold off on the other surgeries until September. I will explain tomorrow night though as I really am just so exhausted.
Joel, is Blind...

Kevin's Buddy who died in the Bombing, Andrew J Shields is on this Memorial...



These Incredibly Brave Warriors are NOW only 21 years old, each one suffered his injuries within one month of Deploying to Afghanistan...

Afghanistan is a Real War...in the conventional sense...
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:18 am

Monday, July 13, 2009
Day 410 - Jul 13, 2009

YAY!! Kevin did so well at both bouts of therapy today!! He went with no problems today and he had such a good time - both in the morning and the afternoon! It didn't hurt either that his physical therapist is from the Pittsburgh region, lol. I seriously think it is (in part) because of us being able to leave 15 minutes before it starts as opposed to an hour and fifteen minutes ahead of time. And once we get there we just park immediately right at the door - no driving around for a half hour looking for a spot. I am just so excited! He worked hard today and I feel like good things are going to come out of this!

I didn't mention to you guys that Kevin so desperately bought himself a pedal bike last week one day (we walked around every dept in Target for about 15 minutes trying to find it because I didn't understand what he was looking for). I think he remembered BMX so he bought himself one of those little 20 inch types of bike - something from his past. So anyway, I was so worried about him trying to ride it because realistically he's just not ready for that yet. So I had my mom and dad stay until he tried to get on it (just in case he fell) and he tried and tried, but he just couldn't figure out how to even get on it. It was very hard for me to watch him get so upset because of his limitations. After he couldn't get on it he just went to his room and shut the door. I just pushed it into the den that is empty and put it out of sight.

So now we are going to work on him riding a stationary bike at therapy and he will also use a treadmill soon. Hopefully he will get to the point where he can ride because I love to go bike riding. I really am so very excited - and so is he. He came right home and told Breezy that he LOVED therapy!

YAY!!!!
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 15, 2009 2:30 am

I can't get over how good Kevin looks. There's a sparkle in his eyes that wasn't there before the restorative surgery to his face, like his body image is at last conforming to a picture he can live with.
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:28 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:I can't get over how good Kevin looks. There's a sparkle in his eyes that wasn't there before the restorative surgery to his face, like his body image is at last conforming to a picture he can live with.
I know, it's great news, there were no mirrors anywhere in the Hospital in Texas so for a long time he knew nothing about how disfigured he was, he first saw himself when he grabbed his mom's cellphone after she took a pic of him, but, ever since the big plastic surgery operation on his chin and neck there is definately a sparkle there, that's for sure... :D
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:26 pm

Sunday, July 19, 2009
Day 415 - Jul 18, 2009

Kevin and I went to Riverfest tonight and we had such a blast. It was enjoyable watching him interact with his friends and so far I think everyone is handling the changes in him pretty well.

And after we left the field, we actually went to Allstars - a bar. I was so sure we would be leaving within ten minutes because of the noise and the people, but that boy proved me wrong. To be honest - I couldn't get him to leave for about 2 hours and even then he was angry that we had to go. I was proud of him too, because he mainly had soda, but he really enjoyed seeing his friends and dancing and just being that goofy Kevin.

Did I mention that he stayed there 2 hours? I couldn't believe it!!

And I am sure some of you have already seen the Pittsburgh Post Gazette today - they are running articles both tomorrow and Monday about various parts of our lives. Mike (journalist) and Rebecca (photographer) from the PPG, actually came down to Florida and spent three days with us a week or so ago learning all of the facets of our daily lives. We had an absolute blast while they were with us because they are both just such wonderful people. I can only hope the PPG sends them again, lol! (not to interview us - just for vacation, lol)

Oh and before I forget - someone said one day about that they could tell I was taking a photography class because the pics that day were so great, lol - I have to admit that the professional Rebecca actually took those ones. Darn. I really chuckled over that comment, but never got around to mentioning that they weren't taken by me.

We also went down to the airport today and picked up Rigney, one of Kevin's comrades - starting on Kevin's very first day in the Army - two years ago exactly tomorrow, the 19th. Fitting huh? His Purple Heart is being awarded on the exact date that he left for Basic.

Anyway, Rigney said he remembers so well sitting down at in-processing next to a kid with all this long black hair. Those two went through everything together - Basic, AIT, jump school, Germany and Afghanistan. Rigney was also there the day of the attack. He is such a great guy and I'm glad he is here with us.

And now I need to get to bed because tomorrow is such a big day.
Today, Kevin gets his Purple Heart, I had planned to go to the Ceremony in Pitsburgh, but, decided instead to send Leslie the airfare money so she can use it for the trip, I will however be visiting Kevin the next time I go to see Starr in Florida, hopefully that will be in two or three weeks time...

This is the link to the Pittsburgh Post, it is a long article and has photos too...it is beautifully written...

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09200/984630-84.stm
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Re: News about Kevin, the Wounded Warrior...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:17 am

Sunday, July 19, 2009
Day 416 - Jul 19, 2009

As I mentioned yesterday - today was the anniversary of the date that Kevin left for Basic Training. Such a weird coincidence, huh?

And y'all know that Kevin's Purple Heart Ceremony was today. I was just so proud of him. He did so incredibly well at the ceremony and when it was all over he stood there and met all of the people that came down to talk to us. Hundreds of people. They were all surrounding us and to be honest - Kevin really enjoyed it. It just amazes me how well he did with everyone! It was just so nice seeing him remember people he hasn't seen in so long and he was very courteous to those he had never met before.

After the ceremony, we went to a private dinner that the Legion held for us. 130 of our friends and family joined us - sorta. I could tell that Kevin was over-stimulated after we left the field so he and I took a car ride for some down time. At that point, dinner was already a half hour later than it should have been, so we went back to the Legion, but Kevin didn't want to go in. I left him in the car long enough to go in and talk to each of the tables and explain that Kevin had just had enough and that we were going to go home. Everybody ate and by the time I finished saying hello/goodbye to everyone, Kevin decided he was feeling better and he finally came in the door.

He had a blast and so did I. It was so wonderful to see all of the people that were invited and you couldn't have asked for a more elegant and wonderful dinner than what the Legion served. They completely outdid themselves and I thank them from the bottom of my heart!

I also do want to thank Tracy for putting this whole thing together. It would have never happened if it hadn't been for her just taking the bull by the horns and doing it.

I also want to thank Bruce for being the Master of Ceremonies and Captain Turner (with the help of Rigney) for presenting the medal.

And I realize that there are so many more that I need to thank, but I will do it privately.

I have to be honest and tell you that I am just too tired to post any photos so I will get to them tomorrow night.

In the interim though, be sure to check out the article from

http://www.post-gazette.com/.

There is also video with a whole bunch more photos. I am anxious to read what they have to say tomorrow too.

I also know that Kevin was featured on many different local news channels, here is what I have found so far:

KDKA News - video on right.

http://kdka.com/local/Kevin.Kammerdiene ... 92531.html

WPXI - Channel 11

http://www.wpxi.com/news/20111072/detail.html

And now this lady is hitting the hay! I am just so exhausted...
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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:40 am

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2008

Update on Kevin

Hi everyone. I wish I could come on here and tell you all good news, but so much of what I had been told has been incorrect.

I hope you all don't mind me just really saying it like it is. This blog is not going to be for the faint-hearted. I need to get it all out and I know that everyone loves us and everyone wants to be in the know. I don't have time to write numerous emails and I definitely can't talk on the phone much, so this is the avenue I have chosen.

So I am so embarrassed to say that when I walked into Kevin's room for the first time - within 30 seconds I literally dropped to the floor. I fainted. It was the most horrifying moment in my life. I really thought I was prepared. I knew his face was burnt. I knew he was on a ventilator. I knew he had goggles on because his ducts were burnt and couldn't keep his eyes moist. I knew he had tons of staples in his head. I even knew he was sedated. But honestly - nothing could ever prepare you for seeing only gauze and tubes and lips that were nearly burnt off. (did you know that lips will completely grow back in about 2 weeks?)

So the docs had to carry me out of the room and I couldn't even go back in until the next day. I have to ask myself "What kind of mother does that?". And God, I feel horrible for even saying this but he looks so bad. 100% of his face has either 2nd or 3rd degree burns. You can't even tell it's my son.

As for Kev...this is just so horrifying. A lot of what we were told just wasn't right so I will get on with what we are really dealing with here.

Let's see...his left ankle is fractured. That has been splinted so far. He did have internal bleeding and they did manage to get that stopped. I am told that only about 20% of his body is burned (don't you find it sad that I can say 'only 20% and be happy about it?). He is on a ventilator, but he should be off of that within the next few days.

So about the burns? They aren't even the issue. Up until now, I have not really told anybody yet, but the situation is much worse than we thought. We are pretty confident that he will breeze through the burns, which is just great. But the issue is his brain. I wasn't aware until yesterday morning that the surgeons in Afghanistan removed a "fair portion" of his brain. The blast destroyed it. We just don't know if he will ever wake up and if he does we don't know what type of lifestyle he will have.

I have to be honest and say that I alternate between shock and hopelessness and shock and hopefulness. The hopefulness is starting to be more often, but every time I start to feel good, the doctors stress how bad it really is with his brain. I know they are trying to prepare me for the worst, but damnit - they just need to back off for a minute.

So that's it for now. I will update later tonight if I can. I have to get showered and go shopping because I didn't realize that burn victims' hospital rooms need to be kept at between 75 and 105 degrees. I thought it would be cold so I brought all 'winter' clothing. Once I put the gown, hat, gloves and mask on - I already have sweat running down my back and I haven't even walked up to him yet. So I need to go and buy 'summer' clothing - which will be appropriate for 97 degree San Antonio, Texas.

Love everyone - and thanks so much for the support!
You just read Day Six, Today is Day Four Hundred and Sixteen...

I am so proud of this kid, i'm going to meet him in a couple of weeks, this is one way for you to all understand the Cost of War...he's 21 years old...
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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:37 am

Anonymous said...

It was great to see you and Kevin on WPXI 11:00 news tonight - they had a fairly long segment. And it was a real thrill to hear him say "Thanks" at the end - he's come a long way!
Anonymous said...

Leslie,
I loved watching the videos you posted. You both look great and Kevin seemed like he did so well.
Janet
Anonymous said...

Congradulations to you Kevin...You did so well and again thank you for all you have sacrificed for us...Leslie, thank you and Breezy also for your sacrifice..You may at times think it goes unnoticed by many, but for those of us who understand what all of you have done for all of us and our country, WE THANK YOU ALL...God Bless you all....
Anonymous said...

YAyyyy Kevin!!!!

That was a beautiful ceremony..There was not a dry eye on the hill! We are so proud of you and are a true inspiration to everyone.. Hope to see you again before you leave...
AJ
Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of the video and the pictures on the sites! :) It was so good to see you, Breezy, and Kevin! I've watched the videos several times and I keep finding more pictures on the sites you listed. I like the one where Kevin is putting the corsages on both of you too! I'm so glad we were able to watch him get his purple heart! I'm so proud of you guys! All of you look great and I'm so glad Kevin was having a good time.
Hugs to you!
Kathy in IA
CherylB said...

Kevin, we can't THANK YOU enough for you service and sacrifice. Leslie, reading the journey that all of you have been through and watching the video just makes me cry...just thinking about everything you all have been through. What a great moment for Kevin! I remember reading about you getting Kevin's Purple Heart in a box, and you said no you didn't want it...you wanted Kevin to receive it properly. I do agree it's too bad he has to go thru what he does to receive this. Again, Kevin THANK YOU!
Jim said...

Mrs. Kammerdiener,
I would like to thank you for alowing me the privalidge and honor of standing the flag line for Kevin at his Purple Heart ceremony yesterday. You and he and Breezy will allways be in my prayers.
Jim, Patriot Guard Rider
Kevin is not the only Warrior I keep tabs on, there are a number of other soldiers I am in contact with, a couple of which have not been injured themselves but their Comrades have been killed or wounded...one thing that I had noticed was the number of Bikers attending the funerals, many, many of them show up to ride with the Casket, both from the Airport and also to the Memorial Service and then to the Gravesite...what I did not realize is that the American Legion of Riders put together the Memorials, raise money and in Kevin's case aranged for 120 people to have dinner afterwards...

On this link you can see him getting the Medal wearing his Combat Fatigues, his mom was concerned about this and asked me to find out if he could wear them instead of his dress uniform...

http://www.wpxi.com/news/20111072/detail.html

Col. Bob wrote this note to his mom about his ceremony...
All the ribbons and medals I've won have been given to me at a small formation. Usually my superior officer stands up, says a few nice lies about me, then he says, "Publish the orders" (this is the reading out loud part she's talking about) and another officer will read the official orders, then they pin the medal on my chest, and I say a few words (about 30 seconds worth) and boom, it's over. Nothing more after that. And that's when the Army is being fancy about it.

Some of my medals have come in the mail with nothing more than a nice note from the unit I used to be in. No ceremony, no nothing.

Kevin can certainly wear his Class A's. Nobody in the world would deny him that right, and if his mom is worried about it, or somebody gives him guff, you can tell her to tell them that he has been "personally authorized to do so by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bateman, Infantry, Office of the Secretary of Defense."

Bob actually does work for SECDEF... :wink:
One last thing, of the 1.6 Million Soldiers that have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan 320,000 have some brain trauma or more serious head injuries, unfortunately the IED's are on the ground and the blast goes straight upwards, fills the helmet with pressurized air and that rattles the hell out of the head and brain, better helmet liners would help, but, the Pentagon won't spend the money, two Doctors in Texas raise money to buy these liners, they cost $53 per soldier, they have outfitted nearly 50,000 soldiers...we are campaigning all the time to try and get these liners as standard issue, so far we have had no luck..
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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by living_stradivarius » Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:50 pm

Thank you Kevin!
Image

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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:31 pm

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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:11 am

Chalkperson wrote: the Pentagon won't spend the money, two Doctors in Texas raise money to buy these liners, they cost $53 per soldier, they have outfitted nearly 50,000 soldiers...we are campaigning all the time to try and get these liners as standard issue, so far we have had no luck..
Website, please, Chalkie?

It is great to hear Kevin speak, and very moving to watch the footage of his buddy patiently suiting him up for the big day. Thanks for letting us see that. Hope when you do meet him, you will give him our (CMG's) thanks for his sacrifice and tell him we have all been following his recovery avidly.
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Re: Kevin Receives Purple Heart, gets on TV...please read...

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:12 pm

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Day 417 - Jul 20, 2009

We didn't really do anything today. I knew Kevin would sleep the bulk of the day so I took Rigney back to the airport by myself so that he could head back to Germany. Kevin really enjoyed having him here and I am so glad that Nate took the time to come.

I am also very glad that SSG Wilson and Sgt G (now civilian though) came. I only regret that I didn't get to spend any time with them, but Kevin did and that's more important.

Tracy and her husband Jody came in and spent the day here with us. It was just a nice, relaxing time.

Ronnie also came in to visit Kevin on his lunch break from work. We sure love that boy!

And I did want to thank three more groups of people that were very important. There will be more, but I am too scatterbrained to think of everything at once, lol.

Anyway, I do want to thank the Patriot Guard and the Legion Riders (please excuse my ignorance if they are one and the same). It was so moving to have them take part in this ceremony (and in the parade too). I will say that as I came through the barrier the riders created on both nights, I felt so overwhelmed with thanks and I realized then the enormity of what had happened and how "big" it really is. Sounds strange, I know, but sometimes you are so busy living it, you just don't realize how unreal or how monumental it all is.

I also want to thank the Riverfest committee for allowing us to be part of the annual event. I know it added a lot more stress to the weekend, but we do appreciate it.

And to get to the photos - obviously I couldn't be taking any. I have a couple here, but a woman name Hallie sent me a link to her photos that she said I could share with everyone here. Thanks so much Hallie! They are awesome!

If you read the comments on the blog, you may have heard of Howard the Duck. Here is a photo of him with Rick and Lorraine. Howard made Kevin smile many times throughout the last year.

I wish I had more photos...hopefully some more show up here, lol.

I do want to share the article in today's Post Gazette as well. You can view it by clicking here. Isn't that photo of Kevin and Breezy just so wonderful? (Rebecca - that totally makes up for the photos of me with a towel on my head, lol!!) There is also video of the ceremony that you can view by clicking here and more stories of other families that are going through similar situations.

And now I am going to answer two quick questions from comments that are a few days old.

Linda - I would love a copy of the Derrick if you still have it. I don't have access to that one at all.

Denver - you asked what I meant by Kevin's retirement...Kevin is still active-duty. I am working on getting him medically discharged, but it's quite the time consuming event apparently. I did research this extensively quite a while ago and because Kevin is basically in the VA system already, there is really just no reason to keep him active duty. I am sure there will be questions about this so y'all can just send them along.

And I think I am going to go eat two pieces of cake now (I can't decide between them so what the heck, right?). One from Joan, who makes the absolute best chocolate/peanut butter texas sheet cake and one from miss Patti who makes a white cake with raspberry filling that is utterly to die for! I am just so hungry!!
Here are links to more photos and articles...

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09200/98 ... tedarticle

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09201/98 ... EMAILEDBOX

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLandin ... leid=en_US
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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