HM2 Anthony was injured on April 20, 2007 when a vehicle full of explosives was detonated under the overpass his Marines were guarding. He and 7 others were injured in the incident. Anthony sustained a severe head injury, an injury to his lower back, a punctured right lung and minor scrapes and scratches on his legs, hands, arms and face.
Anthony is the 'Doc' of the group and he takes great pride in his job and in "his" Marines who were so lucky to have his wonderful care. Update
: December Baby "AJ" was born in September and Ivonne makes sure he spends a lot of time with Daddy. Anthony is minimally conscious, opens his eyes and seems to react to voices and touch. His little family can use all the support it can get. Update
: 12/13/07 Anthony's level of consciousness has been raised a notch...this is very good news. He blinks to answer questions and got 8 of 10 right in the latest test. Update
: 5/30/08 Anthony's wife posted that ice cream was put in his mouth and he rolled it around and swallowed it. Another big step for Anthony. She hopes one day he will wake from this 'sleep' and get back to being Anthony. We hope so too. Update
: July 2008 - Anthony is correctly responding to written 3 word commands. This news has his doctors in a buzz. He also is being promoted to HM2 and the ceremony will be in August. Congrats Anthony. We know you're in there. Keep working hard and we'll keep sending cheer.Update
: 12/3/2008 For the past few months there have been ups and downs for Anthony. They watch and get reports from Ivonne daily, changing medications depending on how 'alert' he is and how he is reacting to them. He has several therapists who work with him daily. He's been on a few outings and his wife is viewing/testing options of autos that will be able to handle the equipment necessary for Anthony's mobility. He is still minimally conscious but his son creates tender moments with Daddy that bring joy to Mommy and those around. Update
: 1/29/2009 Ivonne posted some great news ......in her post today, besides mentioning that they are meeting all the football heroes in town for the SuperBowl this weekend, is the following.......
"I got Anthony back in bed and on his side and then even had a teeny bit of time to crawl up in the bed with him and love on him before I bolted to go pick AJ up from school. Before I left though, I had the pleasure of meeting Viola, a woman who is caring for her husband with a TBI for 13 years now. Just talking to her and listening to what she had to say, I know I will be alright. I hope I'm right! I picked AJ up from school and he had a great day, as always. Once he showed me everything he did in school, I managed to get him out of the room and loaded up in the truck. We headed straight up to see Anthony and get him ready to get up and get him over to the Fisher House for something. Jennifer from Ride-Away put a bunch of the families in contact with Wheels for Warriors, an organization that gets wounded warriors accessible vehicles so that they can have freedom and independence. Anyway, all four families filled out applications and they got us all in the same room this afternoon, telling us that we would all find out together which family would be receiving the van. Little did we all know that when they announced the recipient, all four families will be receiving a vehicle! We were all shocked and truly touched and humbled. It's amazing the things that people are willing to do to honor these wounded warriors. We are just so blessed that we are one of those families. This vehicle means so much more to us than just having a van for Anthony. It's a van that will allow us to pick up and go whenever we want to. We will be able to go places AS A FAMILY and we will be free to start living our new normal life!"Update
: 3/13/2009 from his wife, Ivonne:
I signed a contract for Homes For Our Troops to build our home this year. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. I know that Anthony would be and is very proud of me for taking the reins and securing our future, because that's what I did, I secured our future and made it possible for Anthony to go home....hopefully by the end of the year! I so can't wait. I won't have to worry about anything...all I have to tell them is what I like and don't like and they take care of the rest. When all of this is said and done, we will have a beautiful home that Anthony will be completely able to access and more importantly, a place we can call "HOME!" Update
11/11/2009 Ivonne recently posted that Anthony has been approved for a trial study. They hope that this will allow Anthony to progress in his cognitive awareness and communication by leaps and bounds. The timing will conflict with their moving into their new home, which was supposed to take place before the end of the year, but she has been hoping this would come through and now it has. Anthony's birthday was recently so this news is a great present! Ivonne will be featured in a documentary series called "NOW" for PBS. The focus of the episode is Traumatic Brain Injury patients and their caregivers. It will be an interesting program, please be on the lookout for that.
Ivonne posted "Happy Birthday to all the Marines out there! 234 years and the Corps is still going strong. Thank you for doing what you do day in and day out and for taking care of and supporting your 'Docs!' Also thank you for allowing us to be part of your family. God bless each and every one of you! Semper Fi!"
We ask for prayers for Anthony, that this study is the answer to unlocking his body and brain, letting them both work in some sort of conjunction with each other. Update
December 21, 2009 Anthony's wife has been keeping us posted that he is now settled in at the new hospital, the house will be started in January, and although little AJ is staying with his grandparents while Anthony is in this special trial therapy, all of them will be together for Christmas!
They also had a wonderful surprise this weekend as the other guys from his squad who were injured in the same bridge explosion came to visit. She said Anthony reacted to each of them as they spoke and they all were able to have a little one-on-one healing time together. She was able to spend some time listening to stories they had to share about Anthony and was so appreciative that they came from everywhere to be there together. What a wonderful Christmas present from a great group of guys. Update
: 1/10/2010 from Ivonne: The building of their new home is underway! She went home this past weekend to be there when the 'build' began. We know this is something that will make their lives very, very much better so OohRah to "Homes for our Troops" organization for making it happen.Update
: June 2, 2010 Work continues on the house and it is very close to being finished. AJ has been able to visit a few times but mostly talks to Dada via internet connections. He is very comfortable with the routine and always sends kisses and monster hugs for Mom and Dada and his favorite people at the hospital. Anthony will be medically retired from the Navy sometime this summer and will also be ending the trial study in which he is participating. He has made progress and is more alert but Ivonne says he's still not as 'awake' as she'd like for communication. He's also had problems with seizures and he is being watched very closely for any unexpected activity.
She struggles with knowing that soon they will be home together and he will be in her hands, not the hospital's. She's excited and nervous at the same time as you can well imagine. Her strength has been amazing but it will have to increase as changes to their life together continue to unfold. Update
: 7/8/2010 from Ivonne: The last month was spent getting ready to move hospitals again and Anthony is now settled back into a previous one. They are not 'home' yet but are moving in the right direction. Anthony's therapy continues and he's doing well, holding his head up most of the time and seeming much more focused and aware. AJ's latest photo sent to them is of him covered in lipstick, done while Grandma was cooking. It gave Ivonne the smile she needed for today.
Send a card containing something that will make her smile. She and Anthony appreciate your kindness.Update
7/21/2010 from Ivonne: Anthony's retirement ceremony is on June 27th and she is planning for it to be a huge event. She's ordered a cake and wants everything to be perfect. Family will be coming in and there is much hubbub, all for her sweetie.
She said the staff called her when she was recently away and said they heard him say a few words, very faint and breathy, but wouldn't have called her if they were not sure. She said she will save her excitement for when she witnesses it herself.
Pray that Anthony's communication ramps up. It would make the upcoming transitions so much easier and life in general less stressful for all.Update
: 7/30/2010 from Ivonne - Anthony's retirement was the respectful ceremony, and the grand gathering she had hoped for. The attendance overwhelmed her - over 200 people came to honor Anthony and show their pride and admiration for him and his family.
Other than the cake not being finished quite on time, everything else went off without a hitch. She said he held up all day and was very alert the whole time. AJ was a trooper and visited all his old friends. Ivonne joked that he has more friends there than she does!
There have been no more vocalizations that can be understood so keep praying that Anthony's abilities in that area eventually prove to be more than a one time event. Update
: 8/10/2010 from RyAnne, a family friend: Anthony has been taken to ICU. He underwent surgery this week in preparation for a more permanent solution than a catheter and an infection has occurred. His condition does not allow his body to react normally to infection so this is a crisis. Please keep this little family in your prayers. I know you do anyway, but today is especially important for them.Update
8/11/2010 Anthony's infection is being narrowed down and he's showing some signs of responding to the medication. The surgical area and surrounding areas are not infected but now they are investigating effects of anethesia. He is still very sick and the waiting continues. Ivonne is grateful for all the prayers she knows are flowing in for them. Update
: 8/12/2010 Anthony took a turn for the worse and his mother has flown in. His fever was 104 and not improving. The nurse said his body is shutting down.
The family had to decide whether to see if the fever/blood pressure/heart rate would improve, given more time, or if surgery might help them find what was wrong. Neither option was given a good option for success. They chose to do the surgery because Anthony would want to fight as long as he can. The surgeons found a hole in Anthony's bowel and a lot of puss in his abdomen, which they removed. They have been told the next 72 hours are critical.
Prayers from all over the country are being concentrated on him. Add yours and see if we can get this situation turned around. We know he's fighting - let's help him. Prayers are more important than cards right now. Update
: 8/13/2010 Ivonne reports that she did not get any emergency calls overnight last night and yesterday was a better day. Anthony still has a fever and his vitals are not all in line but his color is coming back and some vitals are looking better. She says the doctors are surprised, and more optimistic, even though Anthony is still critical and not out of the woods by any means. He is being visited by Chaplains and the family sees him as much as they are allowed. Ivonne is aware and very grateful that all of you have them in your prayers. Update
: 8/16/2010 Ivonne's latest news is that Anthony continues to make progress. They are very guarded but weaning him off of some of the heavy equipment little by little. He is more alert and continues to be more aware. Another good sign is that his Mom went home. Anthony' sister is now at the hospital but Sheila would not go anywhere if things were as dire as they were a few days ago.
Anthony has had setbacks before, trouble with seizures and reactions to medications, but never something like what they experienced this week - calling the family in and preparing them for the worst.
So we say with our own guarded optimism, keep those prayers coming.Update
: 9/2/2010 Anthony is still in ICU and Ivonne reports that the ups and downs continue. It seems for each report of progress there is a downside. He is tolerating some things well but every day there is something new to diagnose and treat - or watch and wait.
AJ's visits via the computer give them a brief but wonderful boost to their days.
Ivonne asks everyday that you keep them in your prayers....for Anthony's continued healing and progress, for her strength to keep going and for the health of the whole family. She very much appreciates that so many care. Update
: 9/21/2010 Ivonne reported today that Anthony has been moved out of ICU and back to his regular room. She hopes this will allow the therapy, which was doing him such good, to pick up again. She also flew home and picked up AJ to come back so they can all be together again. He's now officially "3" and will be spending a lot of time on his new bike. Anthony always perks up when AJ is around so his constant reminder that his family needs him is important. As frustrating as this last episode has been, bottom line is, the news is good.
Let's hope and pray that this trend continues and gets them back on track so they can go home. Update
: 10/26/2010 Ivonne says things are moving in the right direction for Anthony. He's been able to tolerate being in his chair most of the day and is being taken off things that will eventually allow him to go outside again. She says they are almost there.
On another note, their house is ready and she is going next week to move their stored items and set up what she can so it won't all happen at once. Another couple who has been at the hospital the whole time they've been there was able to go home this week and she's missing them terribly. They've grown to know another whole family and now it feels like she's losing them. Fortunately they will be able to keep in touch. Update
: 11/9/2010 from Ivonne: Her short trip home was a jam packed 'to do' list and she fit in everything she had planned. Going through and moving things into the house that have been in storage made for a teary trip down memory lane but as she has done so often, mourned her losses and quickly focused on the future.
When she returned and went to the hospital, Anthony was taken off the trach, a huge step towards going home, and his body welcomed the procedure this time without incident. She was able to take him outside for the first time in months and it energized all of them.
This is a very busy and emotional time for them and they so appreciate your kindness. Update
: 11/17/2010 from Ivonne: Anthony has been doing so well she took him to pick up AJ from school, which she has not been able to do since his setback. Getting their lives back to where he can be mobile is an answer to all our prayers.
You have been instrumental in making things happen for this family and for that they are grateful. Let's hope all now stays on track and that their move home becomes a reality very soon.Update
: 3/7/2011 Anthony and Ivonne moved into their new home just before Christmas and hare enjoying the "wicked crazy" life they now have. Ivonne says Anthony has been much more relaxed since they've been home and they can go places as a family, enjoying outings and get-togethers. This new life is not without continuing struggles, however, and Ivonne asked that you "stay with us through these next phases". So keep writing and giving them continued hope for Anthony's communication skills to blossom. She said she reads each and every card.....and loves all of those who take the time to think of them. Update
: 7/11/2011 The newest photo is of the family in front of their very own Christmas tree at their very own home. Ivonne does as much as possible (and then some) to give the family a normal life. She still participates in speaking on behalf of Wounded Warrior families and is making it easier for officials to understand what these families need. On her down days she knows she can vent to us because we have become family too. She loves that you support them and sends you her best.
Anthony has a very busy schedule of physical therapy and after a bout with sores on his foot will soon be ready to be upright in his standing wheelchair again. She says she knows he feels better when he can 'stand' and his range of motion exercises are easier to accomplish. Besides, she loves to have her man standing by her side. We can understand that.Update
: 10/10/2011 from Ivonne: Prayers are requested as Anthony has been admitted to the hospital again with a high fever. He is already responding to medication but the source of the infection has yet to be determined. The quicker they can find it the quicker they will know what treatment has to be done. As Ivonne says, she knows these types of things will happen now and then, they are just complicated by his inability to communicate. Thanks for keeping this little family in your prayers. Update
: 10/12/2011 Anthony continues to progress and is looking and feeling better, although they want to keep him in the hospital for a couple more days. AJ was allowed to visit and Anthony 'lit up' when he saw him. AJ was so happy that Daddy looked like he was saying hello he settled in with him and gave him special hugs. Anthony won't be able to celebrate his birthday at home, which Ivonne was aiming for this year, but they will celebrate when he gets out which will hopefully be very soon.Update
: 11/20/2011 Anthony is now home and he's doing well. Your prayers and thoughts are most appreciated. Ivonne needs them too as she goes through the ups and downs of being the primary caregiver. The holidays are coming and her emotions are running high, wanting to have a great Christmas with AJ but knowing that would mean having Daddy 'wake up' and it's just not happening. This family counts on you to send support. Let's flood them with good wishes. Update
: 2/18/2012 from Ivonne: Anthony has been in the hospital this week with pneumonia. They caught it early and he's bouncing back but he might have to remain there for a few weeks. She said their holidays were pretty good and that AJ still entertains them all.
The love in this household is strong but needs to be bolstered. Consider sending an uplifting message to them today. They thank you very much for all your support.Update
: 4/10/2012 from Ivonne: Anthony was in the hospital longer than expected but has been out for a while now and is doing well, except for a cough that she says gets worse when it is not raining. The doctors switched his allergy medication and it's helping.
She had a scare with her own high blood pressure and was told it was probably anxiety. She's taking steps to minimize it because she wants to remain healthy for her boys. Heaven knows this family has to keep her in tip top shape.
Ivonne and AJ were able to spend a week at Disney and be reunited with many of the folks from the hospital, including Ryanne. AJ did not want to let her go, but they had a great time while they were all together.
Ivonne appreciates you, and asks for your continued prayers for their health and happiness. Send them a card to let them know you are doing just that.Update
: 6/17/2012 Ivonne and Anthony were married the day before Father's Day so this weekend zaps her back into memories and plans made that can never be realized. As melancholy as she becomes, it's good she acknowledges the feelings and it's a blessing that she knows the time spent feeling down will pass.
She said there is an organization building them a pool in the backyard. They originally approached her to send the family on a big trip but Ivonne talked them into something that would last longer and get more use. Go Ivonne!..always thinking.
She wishes all the Dads out there a Happy Father's Day. Update
: 6/19/2012 Ivonne is asking for prayers that Anthony's skin bounces back after the protein medication he was on was interrupted and caused deterioration and possibly pain, only evident by a rise in his heart rate. Neither skin sores or elevated heart rate are good, so Anthony and Ivonne's ups and downs continue day after day. Update
: 10/16/2012 from Ivonne. She says that Anthony is back in the hospital, hopefully for only a short time. He began having seizures and seems to have an infection. Hopefully when they clear up the infections, the seizures will stop.
She's been very busy as you can imagine and some of it has been fun - all three have had birthdays which were celebrated with style. AJ wanted a pool party with lots of SuperHeroes so that's what he got. She said he's a real boy and loves that about him. Her birthday and Anthony's were not as boisterous but fun nonetheless. She traveled to DC for a caregivers meeting and will be going to London with Anthony's Mom next month. She is really looking forward to that.
She asks for your prayers that Anthony's doctors find out once and for all how to keep him strong enough to fight infections, that her strength continues, and that AJ stays happy and healthy. She very, very much appreciates your support.Update
: 10/24/2012 from Ivonne. She brought Anthony HOME yesterday! He is still on medications but he looks fantastic and is giving two long blinks to every question he wants to answer 'yes'. A friend who had not seen him in two years commented how great he looks so Ivonne felt reassured that everything she is doing for him is working.
AJ finished his first baseball season with a win and a big party with pizza, bowling, arcade and cookie cake. Ivonne hopes he wants to play again in the Spring as she enjoyed it so much. Update
: 11-12-14 from Ivonne
This is our life...sometimes
So I'm going to start this update by saying this - there are days that I wake up and wish this wasn't our life. I must have said it a hundred times, this isn't the life Anthony and I planned for ourselves. Today was yet another day that I made the bold statement -- out loud -- with no remorse. Don't take it the wrong way though; it's just that when we have a difficult or trying day I definitely wish we weren't having to deal with any of this. I'm sure you all would have done the very same thing.
I was out of town this weekend with friends and returned home to my boys yesterday. I was glad that I came home when I did. I was able to spend the evening hours with my favorite veteran and hero. What a wonderful man to come home to, for sure. We were also invited and treated to a delicious dinner by our wonderful neighbors which was a very sweet and thoughtful gesture. After putting AJ to sleep, I went into Anthony's room and crawled in bed with him and just cuddled my hero and thanked God for him every single day. I noticed that he was coughing a little bit more than he was when I left, but the weather had drastically changed in 24 hours, so I knew he'd have more secretions and for that, I was prepared. I lied there with my man for a good while and then when he started to fall asleep, I kissed him goodnight and caught up on some of my shows because I was still on west coast time. I went to bed late, but had to be up early to get AJ to school.
I woke up this morning, woke AJ up and then went into Anthony's room to say "good morning" only to find Anthony wide awake, rather tense and looking very flushed. As it turned out, he had a fever, and had spent a good portion of the night coughing and not sleeping. As I spoke to the nurses, Anthony continued to tense up when all of a sudden he had a seizure. It was a mild seizure, but atypical for him. His leg twitched as always, but he was not pulled to the right like usual, so I was a little bit suspicious. We went and ahead and gave him his 2 mg of Ativan and he calmed down. We continued to watch his vitals; his O2 was a little low, his heart rate was really high (120-130), he had a fever (101.2) and his blood pressure was a little elevated as well. Obviously concerned I asked the evening nurse to stay while I got AJ to school and as I started to leave Anthony's room, he went into a full on grand mal seizure -- GRRRRR. The look on his face made me want to cry, but I held it together so that he knew all was ok. His whole body was twitching and he just looked sooo scared. I immediately called the doctor and tried to keep AJ calm, who by now, had come in to say good morning to his dad. We again gave him another mg of Ativan and held our breath till he calmed down. Once he calmed down, I finally threw on some clothes and ran AJ to school only to come back and get Anthony and myself ready to head to the VA to get him checked out.
We got to the ER around 930 this morning and he was taken in immediately.
The got Anthony in a room and took blood for lab work and shortly there after he was taken to have a CT scan done, then back down to ER to collect urine and have a chest x-ray done. They performed all his testing quickly; it was the waiting for the results that was the killer. Anthony didn't seem to care about the wait, he slept all day in Ativan-land.
It wasn't till 230pm that we were informed that his blood work came back and his white blood cell count was elevated (normal 4,500-10,000; Anthony's normal is 8,000) at 13,000, so he definitely had an infection. At this time we knew that he had some WBC in his urine so that could be the source, but we will only know that when his cultures come back. Although because Anthony was coughing excessively, it could be his lungs as well. About 30 min later, we got word that his lungs looked clear, but didn't sound clear so the thought was that he could possibly have a tracheal bronchitis. *SIGH* It was then that the doctor informed us that Anthony would be admitted to be monitored and given IV antibiotics. I guess this is what I get for making it a point that it had been 2 years since he was admitted last. So once I knew he would not be coming home with me, it was the waiting game to get Anthony a room in the Spinal Cord unit there at the VA (the same unit he is always admitted into and that takes such great care of him).
It wasn't till 435, a full 7 hours since we arrived that Anthony was transferred to a room. It was a long day with some frustrations, but when push came to shove when the nurse in the ER told Anthony that she was disconnecting the leads and the blood pressure cuff to transfer him to his room, he woke up and grinned a huge grin -- even he was THRILLED to get out of that ER. We got him to the room, got him situated in the bed, gave him his 5 o'clock meds and made sure they had all his medications ordered and his feeding ready to go. When that was all lined out, I got Anthony on his side and got him all comfortable then went to the nurses station and reminded the whole staff there that Anthony could not communicate or call for the nurse so I would appreciate it if they would go in there often and check on him and talk to him and let him know that he was not alone, but that he was safe. They assured me they would and then I went back to Anthony's room, loved on him lots, said goodnight and told him I would be back after dropping AJ off at school.
I rushed home to take Joy, his nurse today, home so she could go home and so I could let Tubby out and get him fed. I was home for all of 30 min before leaving to drive to my folk's house to pick up AJ who I had missed all day. All I wanted tonight was to see his sweet face and have him hug me and I knew all would be alright. That's exactly what I got; I walked into my parent's house and he ran right to me and jumped on me and hugged me and then immediately asked about Daddy and how he was doing and asked me if he would be able to go and see him tomorrow after school, so it looks like I will be making two trips to the VA tomorrow, but I'm glad to do it. I ended up staying at my folk's house for dinner and then going home. The highlight of my evening is when AJ and I walked into the house he stood in front of Anthony's dark room and said, "It's just not normal to come home and not go into Daddy's room and say, 'Hey Daddy, I'm home!' and give him a hug." He is SO right, it IS NOT normal.
It was a very long day today and I hope I will have more definitive answers tomorrow morning, but in the mean time keep your prayers coming for a speedy recovery for Anthony and a safe return home...SOON! I also hope that tomorrow will not be another day that I say, "I wish this weren't our life."
UPDATE: January 22, 2015
Exciting news for Anthony just in time for the chilly temperatures!
Anthony was the fourth-ever wounded hero to receive a custom made adaptive KoolKoat thanks to the generous donations of others.
This wonderful coat was specially made just for Anthony and his specific needs. Now he will be toasty warm on those cool nights while watching his son's baseball games! Congratulations Anthony!
We received a bit of good news from Anthony's wife, Ivonne, regarding something that happened in their lives this month.
The 11th Annual "Impact a Hero" weekend was held this past week in Houston, Texas. This event brings together severely wounded post 9/11 combat veterans and their family members for a weekend of Activities. The event also gives the community an opportunity to show their support and help raise funds to assist the organization to continue to provide the much needed programs to these heroes and their families.
The festivities included a 5K run, walk, and wheel, a golf tournament and the "Hall of Fame" gala dinner. More than 50 wounded heroes and their family members were honored at the gala dinner this year, and we are proud to announce that Anthony was inducted into their hall of fame! This is a much-deserved recognition for Anthony.
We thank you for your service to this great country, Anthony. What an honor it is to know you and your story. Congratulations to you both Ivonne and AJ.
I wanted to share some thoughts from Ivonne as she reflected on Memorial Day. I am not the only one who has told her she should write a book on her experiences, she is very open and honest about her life with Anthony and it is obvious she loves him dearly. She has an awesome sense of humor and is an amazing woman. this is what she had to say:
"I spent the day today with my man and our lad, just enjoying the fact that given what we all have been through, I can still sit with my boys, hold my man's hand and spend time as a family. My heart immediately thought about the parents, wives, children and all other family members of the fallen men and women that, like Anthony, followed orders on a mission, but never made it home. God bless our fallen brothers and sisters in arms that gave all (not just those who gave their lives, but also those that gave their abilities to be the men and women that they wanted and planned to be) so that I could continue to hold my man's hand with our son nuzzled in between us. I hope all those families remembered their loved ones with fond and loving memories, because we sure did. . . today and everyday"
Date added to program: 6/6/2007
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