We have received a request for cards from an Army wife. Jennifer's husband, Brian, sustained many severe injuries from an IED attack in Afghanistan in early August 2011. We understand he opens his eyes when someone talks to him but there is no communication yet. He has lost both legs below the knee, at least one finger and both arms have fractures. He also has hearing damage, and the concussive force of the explosion caused a traumatic brain injury.
They are so young to be dealing with this and Jennifer will read any mail they get to Brian. She says it will help to "bring him out", she just knows it.
Brian is an Army Medic and so is his father. The family may have had their first big sign of something positive. Jennifer kissed Brian a few days ago and is sure he kissed her back. Let's hope there are many more of those kisses to come. Update
: 10/12/2011 Jennifer squeezed Brian's hand and he squeezed her back. Not believing what was happening she did it again and again and he responded with a squeeze each time. She's so proud of him.....and so are we. :) Update
: 10/21/2011 The latest information from Jennifer is great! She says, "Brian was a late riser this morning. I had to wake him up to get him dressed for speech therapy, but he went right back to sleep after. When Lana showed up and he was completely asleep, I was nervous to see how the session would go. She was able to wake him up and keep him awake. Today was actually his best day so far with speech! Last week he made his way to a 1.5 on her scale, and today he was .88!!! That means NO COMA. She cautioned that things fluctuate and if next time he is in near coma range, it is okay and nothing to worry about. I am BEYOND thrilled. All of his hard work is paying off :)
He had short rest break and then PT/OT. We went to the gym, and again, his best day yet! Once we got him on the mat, the work began. Monica was off again today so Dawn worked with Mitch today. Mitch sits behind Brian just in case Brian gets tired and falls backward or can't keep his balance and Dawn/Monica work with Brian from the front. Dawn tossed the balloon to Brian a few time to get him warmed up then she did it 10 times. He hit the balloon all 10 times! As if that wasn't impressive enough, he kept showing us all how awesome he is. Brian drools a little when he's sitting up because it is hard to swallow and sit up at the same time for brain injury patients. Thus we have to keep a towel close by to wipe his mouth. Today, Dawn wiped his mouth and put the towel back down next to him. Brian picked up the towel a little bit but it's big and a little too heavy for him. So he put it back down and brought his hand up to his mouth and wiped his own mouth off! We all were ecstatic! I went and got him a paper towel and put it in his hand and he did the same thing with the paper towel this time! Dawn wondered how much Brian could do so she got a stack of colored cones out. She gave one to Brian and told him to hand it to her. He did. Then she put the entire stack next to him and told him to lift one off the stack and move it to the other side of his body. He needed help at first but eventually picked it up on his own! He started getting tired and wanted to lay down so they decided to stretch him. Brian laid down and kept rolling side to side. Mitch would tell him to face him and Brian would roll, and I would tell him to turn to me and he would do it! He is doing incredible!"
We think they are both doing an incredible job. Keep up the good work both of you!Update
: 11/18/2011 Jennifer is able to stay positive because Brian is progressing very well. He's now, in his own way, making his wants and needs known and is surprising all at the rate of progress. He is now sipping juices and trying applesauce. They have to be very careful to make sure he doesn't choke on anything. Jennifer doesn't think it will be long before he's eating soft foods. She mentioned that he chose root beer recently when given the option and he enjoyed a little of that but they mostly focus on juices for now, tiny amounts at a time.
His physical therapy continues as well. He needs a lot of core work before they can even think about prosthetics or mobility so keep him in your thoughts and prayers for building physicial strength where and when he needs it. Update
: 12/7/2011 Jennifer has been cooking for Brian and he says she's the best cook in the world. We love him. :)
He's eating meatloaf and veggies. Jenn makes sure he gets some treats but also makes sure he eats well. She's taken on the challenge of making him strong and healthy. GO JENN! Update
: 12/19/2011 Brian has been practicing standing by being on his knees. Recently he walked around the whole mat a couple of times and this activity is preparing his balance and stamina for standing and prosthetic devices.
Jennifer also said that Brian's former commanding officer will be in town tomorrow with another member of his group and is planning on presenting Brian with his Purple Heart. We hope all goes as planned for our hero.Update
01/08/2012: from Jenn - "Brian's purple heart ceremony was beautiful. We had the patriot guard riders and some blue star moms too. Lots of friends and my family came out to support Brian and it all turned out very well! Thank you to James and carolina for planning on such short notice. Only the two of them could pull off something so nice in under 24 hours! We had news coverage and Brian enjoyed watching the stories last night. He said "that's me right?!" when I told him yes he told me "I look good!". His commander is only in town until this morning along with another sgt who was injured with Brian. It was so special to have them here and have the Caption award Brian his purple heart. Brian was all smiles during the ceremony and posed for some pictures!"
Since the ceremony, Brian has been progressing but will not be able to have the collar removed yet so his frustrations are growing. He really wants to go home. "He received your couple hundred holiday cards and spent days opening and reading them all. They really were a great source of happiness for Brian to see all those supporting him. He was confused as to why they all said sergeant. Brian remembers July. He doesn't remember being promoted in August right before the injury. I explained it to him and he kept asking me to promise he was really a sergeant. He's become very inquisitive trying to recognize what day of the week it is and what month. He can't believe it is January already. Brian has a hard time carrying over memories right now. Some he recalls from previous days, but most he can't remember for more than a few minutes. He asks me at least 30 times a day what day of the week it is and what month." Update
: 1/25/2012 Jennifer is asking for prayers that Brian's surgery tomorrow for his cranioplasty goes well. He's tired of wearing the helmet and this is a step in the right direction. If all goes well, his status will change to out-patient and their stay at the hospital will only be about two more weeks. Getting into their own living quarters would be a big boost to both of them.
Jennifer's grandmother is also having surgery tomorrow so please pray all goes well with her too.Update
: April 8, 2012 Brian and Jennifer wish all of you a very Happy Easter. They are now living most of the time in a rental home and they love having time to themselves. They were also able to take a trip home to see extended family and friends and it was a big boost to their minds and spirits.
Brian is doing therapy to ready himself for prosthetics and may need surgery on his arm to remove some bone growth which has been creating pain, inhibiting his ability to do rahab.
He had a sleep test and the good results may allow the doctors to remove his trach, which would make both of them very happy.
Thanks for keeping this sweet couple and their families in your prayers. Update
: 5/5/2012 Brian and Jenn wish you a Happy Cinco de Mayo. They love celebrating the holidays and this is no exception. Jenn reports that Brian now has his first prosthetics last week, walked 100 feet the first day and is already up to 300 feet. Great goin' Brian!
She mentioned that he will be having surgery on his elbow, probably next month, to give him a little more flex in it - and he should be getting his trach out this week. I know he's looking forward to that.
And some really big news. Homes for our Troops has chosen them to receive a home. It will be specially built and adapted to accommodate all of Brian's needs. They are thrilled and rightfully so.
She also has a message for all of you. "So many good things are happening for us. We are so blessed and know if it wasn't for the support from all of you, we would not be where we are today. Thank you all so much, and please continue to keep Brian in your prayers!"Update
: 6/19/2012 Brian was able to travel back home for a visit and Jennifer threw him a birthday party while they were there. He was even able to walk into the party on his legs, thanks to all the hard work he is putting in to his rehab. Another exciting milestone, Brian was able to have his trach removed right before their trip. He can't wait to get in the pool this summer once it is healed.
Brian is having more surgery today, hoping this will be his last. It is being done to repair his elbow so he can bend it and use it. Jennifer asks to keep him in your prayers. While he is looking forward to using his elbow, he is a little nervous and not thrilled to be back in the hospital.
Brian has come so far in his recovery and we would love to be able to let him know that we are all remembering him on this journey. Keep the cards and letters coming.Update
: 6/20/2012 Brian's surgery went well BUT now your prayers will have to be for patience and comfort. He has to be attached 23 hours a day to a machine that keeps his arm moving, and this is scheduled to go on for at least a month. It will take a lot of getting used to.Update
: 6/28/2012 Jennifer says that the arm equipment is really cramping Brian's style but he is allowed out of it more than originally scheduled....about 16 hours instead of 23. He cannot wait to be rid of it.
The amount of challenges and 'waiting' at this young age are so hard to handle. Send some patience and healing thoughts their way. Update
: 7/21/2012 from Jennifer - Brian got his hearing aids on Monday, and is still adjusting to them. They will need to be adjusted by audiology at least a few times before they are perfect for him.
She says "Brian's been spending tons of time on his legs! On Tuesday, Andre Ward came to visit the hospital and Brian was so excited to meet him! He also spent all day on his legs on Tuesday until dinner time and so far he's spent all day on his legs today. He's almost graduated from his walker to his crutches. He's been practicing hard and is really getting better!"
They are looking forward to an upcoming trip. It will be a nice break from all the restrictions he's had recently and we hope they have a wonderful time.Update
: 8/7/2012 from Jenn - "We have been so busy lately! We just got home our R&R trip last night. We had a good time, but the heat and humidity nearly killed us.
Yesterday, Brian got his new service dog, River. They are already best friends. We will have to take River to class 3 times a week so that him and Brian can learn to work with each other well.
Today is a very special day. It is Brian's one year alive day. I can't believe how far Brian has come this year.
I'll never forget August 7, 2011. I remember the day like it was yesterday. My sister was getting married the following month, so I went with her and my niece to a bridal fair. I was waiting anxiously near my phone for Brian to call since it had been a few days since I had heard from him. We got back to my sister's house and I sat down on the couch and was playing with my niece when I got the call. All I was told was that Brian had lost his legs. Nothing else. I cried for a few minutes with my sister trying to console me, then I finally got it together. I spoke to the rear d commander and he assured me he would call me right back. More tears were to follow this conversation. About 30 minutes later he called back. He told me Brian was in critical condition and he would call me when he knew more. My sister called my mom who was just boarding a cruise she was taking. My mom got off of the ship minutes before it left port and flew straight home. She spent the next week with me, never leaving my side. The night of Brian's injury, the Rear D commander called me, and asked me to hand my mom the phone. He told her not to leave me because there was a good chance that Brian wouldn't make it through the night. I've never cried so hard in my life. I was 18 years old and thought I was going to be a widow. The next week DRAGGED on until August 14 when I flew to the US hospital where they brought Brian; I wasn't able to fly overseas because of the lack of time Brian would be spending there.
If I would have known then what I know now, life would have been a lot easier. I would have spent less time crying, and more time thanking God for the time we have together now. Too many wives never get to see their husbands come home alive. I thank God I am not one of those wives. 30 families lost their loved one just one day before Brian's injury.
We have many days of recovery ahead of us, but 365 are now behind us.
Thank you all for your love and support over the past year. We could not have gotten this far without you!
: 8/18/2012 Brian and Jenn made the decision to have some fun and were able to get themselves to Disneyland! They are spending the weekend and enjoying as much of the park as they can. Brian's only regret is not being able to ride all the thrill rides, but just being there is a huge boost to both of their spirits. We hope the Magic Kingdom continues to work its magic on Prince Charming and Princess Jenn.Update
: 9/2/2012 Jenn is full of updates today! "We've been doing the same old thing! Lots of appointments, therapies, and fun in between. We are taking a break from travels for a few months. It feels good to be home and relaxing. Brian's independence is increasing which is nice. He has his cell phone back now which I can't seem to get him away from! Lol. He's also spending a lot of time on the computer. As for housework, he wouldn't dream of it! Lol. If there is a mess involved, he calls for me. One day everyone! We went to a baseball game last night and had a really good time! It was freezing though! We stayed for a few innings but eventually left in the 7th.
Brian also has a bike now! A friend no longer used his bike so he passed it on to Brian. He LOVES it. He wants to go for bike rides at midnight! We ride a lot now but only on base so far. We have a nice trail right out the gate, but I'm worried about flat tires, etc.
Brian's teeth are finally getting fixed! He will be having implants done on the 12th. He is so excited. I'm worried about the pain afterwards but I'm sure it will be nothing compared to what he's already endured. He opted out of the sedation so he will be awake with just a local anesthetic. He said "if I can't feel it anyways, why be asleep. I want to watch them do it!" Sedation will be on standby in case he changes his mind! I personally would rather be asleep so I don't have to smell or hear either.
The 3 Dogs are keeping us busy. River and Brian are the perfect team so it's working out well. The other 2 are jealous since River goes everywhere with us, but we love them all the same!" Update
: 10/14/2012 from Jenn "Happy October!!! Well I guess it is already half over. I can't believe how fast this year is going by. We have been busy. Brian got a new set of legs last week and he has been busy with his archery. He is hoping to go to the Paralympics so he has been practicing hard. He loves his coach and enjoys the workouts, so I am so happy for him!
We went to visit Brian's grandparents last week and had a wonderful time! Brian got to spend time with his cousins (he hadn't seen two of them since he has been hurt) and his uncle and grandparents. I hope we can go visit again soon!
We have been busy with the dogs still but I figure as long as we have 3 dogs, it will be a circus. River of course came with us on our trip and my grandpa watched Apollo and Starr for us. We are so thankful he is always willing to help us.
Brian and I are looking forward to our anniversary in less than 2 months! We are going to be spending it on a Caribbean cruise! We met on a cruise and it seems only fitting that we spend our anniversary on one. It just so happens that it will be the same ship too:).
Just a quick story so everyone can see how sweet Brian is.. Tonight we were in Safeway getting cake mix for a cake decorating class we are taking on Sundays with our friends. I was shopping away and Brian was nowhere to be found. I figured he went out to the car so after he didn't respond to my text, I checked out and was walking out. I saw him sitting by the exit with a bag on his lap. He whips out a bouquet of roses and yells "happy birthday". I looked at him funny because today is not my birthday. In fact, my birthday is about 6 weeks away still. He said "well it's not your birthday but do I need a reason to buy my wife flowers?" So sweet! Then we got in the car and he said "I have a confession.... I stole the money you had in the cup holder so I could buy them". It's even sweeter he went out of his way to think about me.
Brian is working on getting his drivers license back. It is his biggest goal right now. He will be doing the driving simulator in the next few weeks hopefully, and if he passes that then behind the wheel is the next step. I will try not to panic.
Well, I think that about sums up our past month. I really should update more, but life keeps us very busy!
God bless! And if we don't talk before Halloween, enjoy! Brian's favorite holiday!"Update
: 11/13/2012 Jennifers most recent update "Good afternoon! It's Thursday, which is like our Friday because Fridays are just filled with fun appointments usually! Tomorrow, Brian is going horse back riding and has archery practice, which he loves! Brian's stoma has closed perfectly :) he started swimming on Monday and is loving it. In fact, he is about to hop in the pool in just a few minutes. He has some pretty awesome swimming legs with the Avengers on them. They make him sink to the bottom though so we have to figure out what to do about that.
We have been busy with Brian's archery and getting ready for the holidays. I already started Christmas shopping. I can't believe it! Brian went shopping with his coach last week and got me birthday gifts. I am so curious because he says I will love them! Only a few more weeks til I can open them! He loves his coach. We are so blessed to have found him.
Nothing else really new around here. We are going to the local football game on Sunday so Brian is super excited about that, even though he is a chiefs fan!
Counting down the weeks til our cruise and keeping busy with the day to day tasks. Hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving time if I don't post before then! God bless!"Update
: 02/14/2013 Sgt Brian and his wife, Jennifer, made the most wonderful announcement recently. They are expecting their first child, A BOY, and are very excited to share the news with all of us! Jennifer made a point to say "Brian loves getting cards in the mail from all of you. Every time he gets a big envelope with all the cards, he gets a big smile!"
UPDATE: June 15, 2013. We found out from Jennifer that Brian got his new legs and feet on recently! They give him a much more natural step and she says he is really looking good! He also celebrated his birthday last month and, according to Jennifer, he is STILL celebrating - and rightfully so! We are so grateful that he is alive and doing well. Brian has also become quite the shopper for baby boy items. Seems someone is quite excited to become a Daddy soon! The groundbreaking for their house was at the end of last month and they both feel extremely bless with the support they have received from everyone. In October, Brian will traveling to DC to ride his bike in the Army Ten-Miler. Lots of exciting things happening for Brian and Jennifer. We continue to wish them both the very best.
UPDATE: July 29, 2013: Exciting news from Brian and Jennifer. Their baby boy, Jackson, was born last night! 7 lbs 9 oz Healthy and Perfect! They will be in the hospital for just a few days, but they can't wait to take their new little guy home! Congratulations!!
UPDATE: 11-10-2013 We recently received an update from Brian's wife Jennifer. Brian finished up his prosthetic training earlier this summer. They were in San Diego for 6 weeks and then took a trip to Disneyland accompanied by Jennifer's sister and niece. In late October, Brian rode in the Army 10-miler in Washington DC on his bike. Jennifer is so proud of everything he has accomplished. She reports he has such a good attitude and can accomplish everything he puts his mind to.
They will move into their new house on December 12 and are so excited to spend their first Christmas there with Jackson. She tells us he is such a happy baby and that they are truly blessed.
Brian and Jennifer attended the Marine Corps Ball on November 2nd. Jackson stayed with his nana so they knew he was in good hands. But they had never left him before though so it was a new experience for them.
Brian and Jen were able to celebrate Christmas and New Years in their brand new house. They moved in mid December and just love their new home. The new year opens a new chapter for Brian. He medically retired from the Army after nearly 7 years. They both seem to be enjoying parenthood very much. Jackson is the center of their world and they are very happy and content! :)
August 6th marks Brian's 3rd ALIVE day!!! He has been working hard toward getting his drivers license back and does not have to attend physical therapy anymore. Brian and Jennifer have been enjoying their time as a family, just watching their little boy grow. He just turned one year old. Jennifer says "I can't believe how fast time goes. In the past 9 months we have celebrated Thanksgiving, moving into our new house, Christmas and much more. And here we are again coming right back up on the holidays! (Halloween is Brian's favorite)" How wonderful to have such a positive update. Let's continue to keep them close in thought and prayer for continued progress.
Homes for Our Troops featured SGT Brian and his family in the first episode of their "The Rebuilding Lives Video Collection". We wanted to share this touching story with you.
Watch THE SGT BRIAN'S STORY video
Date added to program: 9/14/2011
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