SPC Matthew T. Drake, 9th
BTN PSYOP, was critically wounded in a suicide/homicide car bombing in Iraq
on 10/15/2004. As the only survivor of the five men in the vehicle,
he was transported to the 31st CASH (Army Hospital) in Baghdad
where emergency brain and skull surgery was quickly and skillfully
performed by neurosurgeon Dr. Jeff Poffenbarger. The fractured portion of
his skull was removed and a titanium mesh patch was placed over the hole.
Matthew’s condition was extremely critical. He was in a coma and
on life support, with severe brain and numerous other injuries which
prohibited him from being air evacuated to the Landstuhl Army Medical Center
in Germany until three days later. He had much difficulty with the trip,
apparently suffering large stroke and nearly dying en route. (Only much,
much later did his family learn from Matthew that during that brief time of
death, he met his Lord, face to face. As Matthew says, “I thought I knew Him
before, but when He touched my hand, I went WHOA! Me… and God! It was
unbelievable; awesome!” That whole story can only be told by Matthew
He arrived in Germany in a worsened
condition. The next day, his neurosurgeon was rotated out, and the
Landstulhl ICU attempted to have Matthew transferred to a hospital in Hamburg,
where many soldiers with life threatening head injuries are sent. Due to the
severity of his condition, which in addition to the coma, life support,
critical scalp, skull and brain injuries, involved seven fractures, including
the C-6 spinal vertebrae, open mandible fractures, breaks in the sternum, both
clavicles, upper right arm, temporal bone and right orbit, first through third
degree burns on his hand and legs, explosion damaged lungs, shrapnel in his
head, face, neck, throat, plus bacterial and viral infections, the hospital
in Hamburg felt that he was too unstable to move, thus declined to accept him.
As it turned out, a dedicated
American doctor at the hospital, refused to give up on Matthew and contacted the
Bundeswehrzentralkrankenhaus (German Military Hospital) in
Koblenz, (the equivalent of our Walter Reed) and spoke with a German Army
physician who agreed to drive the 2+ hours to Landstuhl to examine Matthew.
After assessing him, this amazing doctor agreed to take on his case and arranged
for the German Army Helicopter and its expert medical team to go to Landstuhl
that day, 10/19/04 to transport an unknown 21 yr. old American soldier to
their hospital’s ICU in Koblenz. He was the only American there.
At this point, Mortuary Affairs was
notified and we received the call that we were going to be sent to him in
Germany. My sister, Linda, agreed to accompany me, at her own cost, so that my
husband could stay home with my other two children and I would not have to go
alone. Matthew’s father and step-mother followed the next day.
Linda and I arrived at the German
military base/hospital with no German words in our vocabulary, no Euro in our
pockets and no place to stay (since we had expected to be at the American base
in Germany). When we finally arrived in the ICU and saw a nearly unrecognizable
Matthew, comatose and on life support, we laid hands on him and prayed for God’s
mercy and healing. Even though he was in a medically induced coma, a tear
rolled down his cheek and we knew; “He is still Matthew. He is in there!” And
we had hope!
The whole German medical team was
extraordinary. The German people were unbelievably kind, concerned, helpful,
and professional "angels", to us during the toughest time of our lives. We
are in their debt forever and desired that our Country to express its thanks, at
the highest possible levels, to these outstanding people. These wishes were
communicated by the family to the appropriate people in the U.S. Army and a
special ceremony was held in Germany, during which these unselfish, unsung
heroes were recognized, honored and presented with special “coins”.
In addition to treating the
brain, head, skull and facial injuries, the lung and the burns, and all of the
ancillary complications, the German medical team performed surgeries to insert
an endotracheal tube into his throat, insert metal support rods and plates in
his jaw and arm, free the tendons in his burned fingers and remove shrapnel and
debris. They stabilized his condition to the point that he was able to be
transported, with the aid of a respirator, to the U.S. Army Hospital at
Landstuhl on 11/4/04 and then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC)
in Washington D.C. on 11/6/04.
WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER
Matthew and his mom were flown to
Washington, DC via a medical, military transport plane. Although the trip was
long and difficult, Matthew arrived at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on
11/6/04 and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Matthew underwent further
emergency surgery on 11/8/04, at Bethesda Naval Hospital for a nicked, narrowed
and bulging carotid artery. Two stents were inserted to allow proper blood
flow. He had additional burn surgery, including skin grafting on 11/16/04
at Walter Reed. Another surgery was performed to insert a feeding tube into his
He remained in ICU at WRAMC
for several days, and throughout the rest of November his condition
stabilized more each day. He was weaned off of the respirator, and slowly
began to emerge from his coma. He was unable to speak or voluntarily control
his movements at this time. On occasion, he was alert enough to make eye
contact, and with intense effort, to move his toes or a thumb on command. He
began to exhibit signs of hearing. He continually endured severe pain from his
injuries. The damage from all of his war wounds, especially to the brain, was
clearly severe and he would require intensive, long term rehabilitation. The
long term prognosis was that he would be severely disabled for life. It was
unknown whether he would be able to learn to walk, talk, control his movements,
or take care of himself in any way.
In December, bedside
rehabilitation began. His arms and legs, hands and feet were stretched and
manipulated. Unable to communicate by speaking, blinking or even the lifting of
a finger, it was difficult, extremely painful, and discouraging for Matthew.
But he tried with all of his heart, soul and spirit. By the end of the month he
could sit up with assistance and be put in a reclining wheelchair. He was
down to 111 lbs. from his starting weight of 185 lbs. He was beginning to make
groaning sounds, but couldn’t open his mouth to speak.
On January 2, 2005 he spoke
his first word, a crude, guttural, but convincing “NO”, when the Physical
Therapist and Occupation Therapist pushed him to his limit (which is something
the Speech Therapists encourage, tough as it is, to get them to start talking…
because it works!). Everyone in the room cried with joy! From that point
forward, the gains have been very slow, but steady with movement, speech and the
relearning of very basic skills. Therapy continued at WRAMC during the
month of February. Matthew began to gain a little strength, but
experienced several medical setbacks which forced his schedule to be temporarily
reduced. The Army classified Matthew as 100% disabled, “unable to care for
himself in any way”, and decided to retire Matthew from active duty.
That process began during this time. (Once retired, his care would fall under
the auspices of the Veteran’s Administration). He continued to make gains
through his rehab efforts and sheer faith and determination during this time.
The staff at WRAMC was amazing!
They will never be forgotten by his family. Matthew received excellent care. Of
special note is Army Liaison extraordinaire, Dan Thompson, who was always
there; everyday in everyway. He did everything possible to support and lighten
the burden on the family. Katie Sullivan, Matthew’s speech therapist
also went far and above the call every day. In addition to being wonderful at
her job, she was a helper, educator, supporter, encourager; a real blessing to
all. Matthew had many great nurses and doctors, but Nurse Shannon Brown
and he bonded in a special way and she continues to be fondly thought of as a
In March 2005, he was
transferred to the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, FL, which is
known for its Traumatic Brain and Spinal Injury Programs. Matthew worked
very hard at his rehabilitation program and spent each weekday with his
therapists for Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Group
Therapy and Recreational Therapy. He began to walk with assistance.
Speaking was still extremely difficult, but improving. Eating solid
foods still wasn’t possible, but he chowed down on the pureed food and
began learning to feed himself. He had his first field trip on March 15, 2005,
to a nearby Dairy Queen. It was his first time out of the hospital since
October. On the day before Easter, he actually wheeled himself around
the corridor in his wheelchair for the first time. He was so proud and
happy. Everyone was! On March 31st, he was able to go for a
short visit to the zoo in his wheelchair with his family, step-dad Gary,
sister, Heather and brother, Michael, who were visiting on spring break.
Matthew’s long term memory
was very good. He knew all of his family members, remembered old songs and
movies, and was able to read. His short term memory, however was
not working well. He wasn’t able to remember anything from about a month prior
to his deployment, or recall anything that happened five minutes ago. He had no
memory of being in Iraq. He wasn’t aware that his buddies were killed. He began
to learn to use a notebook to look up information about himself, his
schedule, room number, etc.
The doctors were pleased with his
progress and determined that once he was able to perform the very basics, he
would be transferred to a rehabilitation center closer to home.
THE PURPLE HEART
While Matthew was in various stages
of healing over several months, there were a number of requests from the Army to
schedule the presentation of his Purple Heart. His mom, Lisa Schuster
and his dad, Tom Drake were determined that he would receive it when
he could stand, in uniform, to do so. He strongly agreed. With his parents
on either side, that wish came true at 4:00 p.m. on April 18th
2005. He stood, in uniform to receive three medals; a Purple
Heart, Army Commendation Medal and War on Terrorism Medal.
Matthew’s mom, who had not left his
side since Oct. 20th was there, along with his step-dad Gary,
sister Heather and brother Michael. His dad, Tom, who had been
with him as often as his work schedule allowed, step-mom Adrienne,
plus both sets of grandparents, Bob and Alice LaFleche and Bob and Sally
Drake, and several aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. were also proudly
The medals were presented to Matthew
by General Douglas Brown, the Four Star General with
responsibility for the entire US Military’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
He visited Matthew many times over several months and they built a very strong
bond. His participation made the moments extra special. Matthew’s parents,
Lisa and Tom spoke to the guests extending there thanks, and pride.
Matthew also participated in the program, via a surprise presentation of
a special commemorative coin to General Brown, engraved with the names of
the five fallen Special Operations comrades who died during Operation Iraqi
Freedom, including his own PsyOp teammates.
Matthew and his mom, Lisa, flew to
the Veteran’s Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan on May 4, 2005. He
was a patient in their Extended Care Center (ECC), where he continued to inch
forward on his long road home. He had extensive Physical, Occupational, and
Speech therapy and continued to improve in all areas. He became able to make
short day trips home to Toledo and Sylvania in his wheelchair. His “home”
at that time was actually a VA nursing home. Matthew was the only patient under
sixty years of age and the only Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. While everyone
made him feel welcome, he was extremely anxious to be able to go home for
good. Several things needed to happen to make Matthew’s homecoming possible.
He still had quite a lot of work to do on his balance, walking with a
walker and assisting with his own personal care routines. Once home, the VA
would provide 20 hours a week of attendant care to help his mom with bathing,
dressing, etc., but Matthew still required 24 our a day care..
Additionally, his home needed to be
equipped with railings,
wider doorways, ramps, bathroom modifications and other accommodations to help
Matthew to function there.
Matthew’s former bedroom was in the
basement (he loved having
his own space down there!), but the steep stairs now kept him from his room.
Word got around about some of the challenges that Matthew and his family were
facing. Friends and strangers alike stepped forward with a mission to
provide him with his own quarters attached to his family’s small ranch home.
The goal was to help him to become as self sufficient/independent as is
possible. Thus, the Matthew’s Independence Day project was launched, by his
home community of Sylvania. An all volunteer team designed and began building an
800 square foot addition just for Matthew.
During the time that construction
was taking place at home, Matthew moved to a specialized rehabilitation center
in Ann Arbor for three months. The Eisenhower Center works exclusively
with victims of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. He had daily therapies
to assist him in working to re-learn basic life skills like walking, talking,
grooming, and strengthening his weakened body. Progress was very difficult
and very slow, thus extremely frustrating for Matthew. Two of his most
significant struggles involved the loss of his short term memory, the lack of
balance and coordination and the uncontrolled shaking and tremors in his hands
November 5th, 2005, Matthew officially cut the ribbon to his
new “apartment” and moved home. This milestone was shared and celebrated by
scores of family, friends, and the amazing volunteers who made Matthew’s
Independence Day a reality.
His beautiful new “digs” were
equipped with everything needed to enable him to function at the highest level
possible for him at that time. In addition to the wide doorways and ramps for
his wheelchair, and the specially equipped bathroom, his quarters were fitted
with a super sensitive intercom system so his family could allow him a little
privacy but at the same time monitor all of his movements.
ONGOING THERAPIES, DOCTOR VISITS,
ETC. Winter 2005–Winter 2006
Matthew’s new routine included the
assistance of a home health care attendant who came each morning to help
him with bathing, dressing, eating and getting ready for his outpatient
therapies. Each afternoon, he headed to the Medical College of Ohio for
Physical, Occupational, Speech, Rehabilitation and Psychological services.
Through the months that followed, he continued to make progress in tiny
increments and graduated to a walker to assist him to get around. He
dealt positively with many rounds of medications to try to help him to deal with
all of the remaining aftereffects of his injuries.
Matthew was now assisted by a
wonderful health care aide and family, friends and therapists. He began walking
with only the aid of a crutch cane. His biggest obstacles remained his
short term memory, mobility, speech and the use of his arms and hands due
to severe ataxia. (Shakiness, lack of coordination and uncontrolled movements).
He was invited to participate and with his mom, spoke at the County Youth
Olympics, Central Catholic High School’s Pro-life assembly, several Veterans’
events and other Community events. He is committed to giving back to the
community who has so graciously supported him. He is currently helping out
as a volunteer with Impact World Tour Ohio, an outreach of Youth With A
Mission, (YWAM). He has volunteered at the VFW Post, and been made an
honorary member of the national Theta Chi collegiate fraternity. He continually
accepts many requests to support local activities.
Matthew was invited to the White
House and had the opportunity to meet President George W. Bush in the Oval
Office. The Commander in Chief asked Matthew how he was doing, whether he
was still improving, if he was still in therapy and if he had everything he
needed. Matthew shared with the President information about his friends who
perished and emphasize that he is committed to living his life in the most
positive, productive way that he can in their honor. He wants to help
people. He told him about his involvement in the Impact World Tour coming to
Ohio and his desire to help brings kids to Christ. Matthew was blessed to have
led his Iraqi interpreter to Jesus just days before that friend, A.D., was
killed with the others in the attack which took the lives of all involved except
Matthew. He also presented the President with a copy of the book “Going
Public with the Gospel”, personally signed and inscribed for the President by
its author Mark Anderson, Director of YWAM’s Impact World Tours worldwide.
Matthew’s Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob,
and good friend Andrew Bartholomew from IWT, joined him on this trip. All were
treated to a private tour of the West Wing and to breakfast in the exclusive
White House Mess by Presidential advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl
President Bush invited Matthew to
come back when he is able to jog with the President. Matthew is committed to
meeting that goal during the next year!
Matthew received a couple of
wonderful surprises towards the end of the year.
The first was a phone call from
Dr. Jeff Poffenbarger, the neurosurgeon who saved his life in Baghdad, and
who helicoptered from there to the German military hospital to check on him
there. Through an unusual series of circumstances, “Dr. Poff” received a note
and DVD about Matthew’s “Long Road Home” which arrived nearly a whole year after
it was mailed. Though there was no return address or contact information
included, the Dr. managed to track Matthew down. He too was now out of the Army
and running a clinic in Virginia. He invited Matthew to come for a visit.
Matthew and his mom are excitedly planning to take him up on that offer very
soon. They also will visit Walter Reed to thank all of the incredible
people who gave so much of themselves to help Matthew to gain his life back. He
has no memory of his time there, so each observation and each meeting will be a
first for him. This “Victory Tour” will hopefully also be a time to share
help and hope and prayer with other families who are struggling with injury,
illness, fear and pain.
He also received a call from a very
dear friend, Suzanna, who is still in the Army and stationed in Germany.
She had only recently learned of his injuries and promised to visit him in
Sylvania during her holiday leave.
Matthew’s passion is, once again,
working out at the gym. Currently, his workout buddy is his physical therapist,
Greg who goes with him to the University Medical Center Gym. His greatest goal
is to be able to drive again, and of course, to be able to live on his own.
With continued hard work on his part, and continued healing and restoration on
God’s part, and the ongoing help and support of dedicated medical personnel,
Matthew and his family believe that those days will come.
He and his mom, Lisa, and family are
passionate about helping others with severe traumatic brain injuries
receive the best medical and rehabilitation care available, overcome obstacles,
and facilitate understanding and acceptance of these brave individuals in their
communities. They continue to take numerous opportunities to share their
story and their faith with others.
His positive attitude, determination
and faith in God and in himself remain constant. No one can say how much
improvement potential exists, but no one is going to put any limits on Matthew
or His God!
- MARCH 12, 2007
enjoyed a long awaited trip to the beach in Florida with his aunt and
uncle who promised to take him there “when he was better”. That
promise was made when an enlarged photo of the beach was posted on his hospital
room wall at Walter Reed in the fall of 2004.
February, Matthew and Lisa traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to check out an awesome
facility called Quality Living, Inc. (http://qliomaha.com)
They specialize in helping people like Matthew progress as far as they can and
then learn to LIVE their life to the fullest despite any remaining impairments.
Matthew decided that this was the place he needed to be and so, on March 12, he
moved to Omaha. We are SO grateful to the folks at the Ann Arbor VA
Hospital who agreed to pay for Matthew's time at QLI. They stepped up,
when they didn't have to, and allowed Matthew to get the best care possible.
12, 2007 - MARCH 10, 2008
adjusted to the move to QLI and Omaha far better than his mom! It was like
cutting the cord all over again, but she knew in her heart that this was a place
where miracles happen and it wasn't long until she was celebrating his progress.
was indeed a place for miracles and great progress. So much was happening
that it was hard to know what to write here, but now that he's
"graduated" from QLI and moved to the next level (more on this later),
I (mom) will try to summarize what happened there.
arrived in Omaha with high hopes for his future and brimming with goals he
wanted to achieve. He wanted to get "back to normal" and to be
able to do all the things he used to do; walking without assistance, driving,
working, dating, etc. He wanted to then move on to his future goals of
having a career, getting married and having children. When Matthew
realized, after a few weeks at QLI, that what they wanted to do was to help him
learn to do things despite his disabilities and impairments, he wasn't
very happy. He wanted to be "cured". Much of what they do
at QLI is to help their residents come to terms with their current level of
abilities while always maintaining hope that things can and will improve with
time and a lot of hard work.
had to learn that there is no shame in needing help or using "assistive
devices" but this clashed with his pride; it was NOT the Army way! He
had to really accept that he did have some impairments, that they may, or may
not, be permanent, but that either way he needed to learn skills to work around
them as they are and use certain "tools" to regain as much
independence as possible.
was a very hard thing for Matthew to do. He had a lot of anger to work
through, as well as survivor's guilt and grief over what had happened to his
friends... and himself. The wonderful staff at QLI were there for him and
helped him reach a place of acceptance without losing his drive to improve...
without losing his hope for a happy future. They were also there for me as
I was going through the same process here at home. This was the first time
I was not taking care of Matthew and the first time I allowed myself to really
"let in" what had happened to my son. It was such an important
process for all of us.
there came a day when Matthew decided that what QLI was offering was the best
way to achieve his goals and he began to work the program they had designed for
him. From that point on Matthew began to make significant progress and
hasn't looked back since!
he arrived at QLI, Matthew was still unsteady when walking and relied on a cane
for balance. He left there walking unassisted, able to handle steps,
curbs, ramps, uneven pavement... you name it. He's very confident but I
still have to fight the urge to "guard" him in tricky situations. He'll
catch me with my arm out behind him and give me his favorite line, "Relax,
he arrived, he was totally dependent on someone else to tell him what to do
next, how to do it, and/or remind him what he'd just done. Now, he carries
a paper schedule in his pocket which details everything he is to do for the day.
When he accomplishes a task he crosses it off the schedule and goes on to the
next item. With this schedule as a memory aid, he is now able to complete
his whole morning routine on his own, with staff arriving just before he leaves
for work to double check that he has everything done. He wears a watch
with alarms which remind him to check his schedule. This step was the biggest
achievement and had the biggest impact on his independence. It took a HUGE
effort and enormous patience on the part of the staff to get Matthew's
cooperation with this... oh, the stories they could tell... Kudos to all
he arrived, he couldn't take his medication on his own. He is now close to
being fully independent with taking his medication.
he arrived he was fully dependent for meals. When he left, he could make
several meals (waffles, mac and cheese, hot dogs) on his own and was also
preparing simple meals with staff.
could go on forever with the countless accomplishments Matthew achieved at QLI
but I won't. If you really, really like details you can read more here:
QLI Discharge Report. Let's just say that the amazing people at this
amazing place helped my son realize that he could have a life worth
living. God Bless our QLI family.
- SEPT. 2008 -
is now living only 45 minutes from us, in a supported living apartment in
Michigan. We, of course, would have welcomed him back here at home but it
would have been a step backwards for him and no one wanted that. So, we
searched to find a place where he could live as independently as possible while
still having the supports in place to keep him safe and on-track. He has
his own place, a very nice two bedroom apartment, in a "regular"
apartment complex. RR (a brain injury rehabilitation center) owns several units there and he is in one
of their apartments.
still has 8 - 10 hours a day of support but we hope that he will continue
to gain more skills of daily living as time goes on and will be able to do more
things on his own. He's working a couple of hours every weekday at the VA
Hospital. Right now he has a job coach to help him learn the
tasks but again, once he repeats something enough times he is able to remember
it and then doesn't need assistance. They are looking for more things for
him to do. The other day he assembled a wheelchair.
typical week goes something like this: Staff stop by in the morning to
make sure he's ready for work and then he is driven to the VA to work.
After eating lunch at the VA he's picked up and taken back to his apartment for
some "free time" where he's alone for a couple of hours. When he sets
up his schedule for the week, using Microsoft Outlook, he plans things to do
during his free time, otherwise he gets bored and restless. He might play
computer games, search for new recipes for his complex cooking times, search for
movies to see or concerts to attend, read and send emails, IM with whoever's
online, and so on. Staff comes at 3:00 to help him with tasks which
require assistance and to run errands, cook, go bowling or to the gym, or
whatever else is planned until he goes to bed. He comes home on the
weekends, spending one night with us and one with his dad and step mom.
a pretty busy guy and now that he's nearby, he's getting even busier. For
He was awesome as his best friend, Matt's, Best Man a few weeks ago. He escorted Matt's mom down
the aisle and then stood up there in his tux perfectly throughout the whole
(long) ceremony. He'd start leaning sometimes, so far that it would
look like he was sure to fall over, but the groomsman behind him would
whisper to him and he'd straighten up. He escorted the Maid of Honor
beautifully as well. During the rehearsal, instead of offering her his
elbow to take, he threw his arm around her waist. She was cute, and he
was grinning ear to ear. We practiced the correct way a few times and
he (reluctantly) got it.
The whole crowd cheered when he entered the
reception hall... He gave the toast perfectly... the bride danced with him
to "When a Hero Comes Along" and they all circled the floor while
I danced with him to "Proud to Be An American". Sheesh...
wasn't a dry eye in the house!! He danced with Lisa Keene, his
friend, and with a bunch of other people. Couldn't get him off
the dance floor. The tux pieces came off one at a time!
Then last weekend my brother ran a half
marathon in Matthew's honor... complete with temporary tattoos of Matthew
and an eagle with flags. We walked all over downtown Cincinnati and
Matthew did great. Had a blast.
Matthew spoke at a school last week, to their
5th - 8th grade students and he did GREAT. Got a little too ataxic
(shaky) near the end and I had to help hold the paper, but otherwise he was
awesome. The kids all wanted their picture taken with him. He was
positively glowing. They gave him a beautiful plaque/frame. (read
He gave same talk Thursday night
at another school to their 7th & 8th graders. It's amazing to see
these kids respond to him. Had to turn down two invites for Memorial Day
(Michael is marching with his High School band in the parade and we don't want
to miss that!) and he's been asked to ride in a car in a parade in August (Read
his Speech) and
again in October.
He loves it and he really inspires others. Something good had to come
from all of this.
Things are pretty much the same as the last
entry. Matthew is doing well in Michigan. He's still working at the VA
hospital a couple of hours every day and has added the assembly of Rollators
(fancy walkers) to his job list. We said good-by to his great job
coach, John, and are getting to know his new job coach, Jerry.
Together they are going to work to increase Matthew's independence at work
and then start to think about what kind of job in the community might
someday work for Matthew.
vocational part of Matthew's recovery is something relatively new and it's
something that the whole team is working on. It's hard to find a job that
not only suits Matthew's current capabilities, but that would suit him on a
personal level. He remembers how he used to be and what he used to do, and
it's difficult for him to understand why he can't have a "real" job.
There's no good way to answer him without highlighting his limitations (which we
don't ever try to do) so we end up giving him vague answers about "everyone
needing time to assess his skills and help him find the right job" which
don't satisfy him for long. I just keep praying and I know God will help
guide us so we can help Matthew.
of "the whole team", I got to thinking (after yet another meeting)
about how many people are involved in taking care of Matthew, just in the
immediate area; not counting the many others from various service
branches/offices at the regional, state and federal levels plus the service
organizations following his case. Anyway, he has a RR Program Manager,
Case Manager, House Manager, Occupational Therapist, Recreational Therapist,
Psychologist, Nurse, and several one-on-one staff members. At the VA, he
has a Case Manager, a Voc. Rehab. Case Manager, a Speech Pathologist, a general
doctor and a neurologist. He has a job coach and Case Manager from an outside
agency. About 20 people per week are involved in his immediate care.
these amazing, dedicated people work with me and Matthew's dad to find the best
way to support and help Matthew stay well, safe, happy, occupied and also
continue to make progress and grow in his skills. There are tons of emails
and phone calls and meetings to coordinate his care. Of course I can't
forget all the financial management people (although they might like to forget
me at times!). And the folks at the Care Coalition in Tampa who make sure I know
of all the latest legislation and such which affect Matthew (and require LOTS of
forms to be filled out!).
many people to manage the life of one person who just wants to be able to do it
himself. He gets SO frustrated at being at the center of this
"web" of people even though he knows they are all trying to
help. But he HAS his life, and for that we are all grateful.
15, 2008 will mark the 4th anniversary of the day Matthew was wounded and SSgt
Michael Owen, Cpl Jonathan Santos and Marine Cpl William Salazar were killed.
will be traveling to Bellingham, Washington, the hometown of Jonathan Santos.
There we will join Jon's mother, Doris, as well as the mothers of Michael and
will attend a screening on October 15th of the outstanding film documentary,
"The Corporal's Diary, 38 days in Iraq",
which tells the story of Jonathan's 38 days in Iraq, using home videos shot by
Jonathan and his diary entries (read on the film by his younger brother,
Jared). This film won the Seattle Independent Film Festival's "Most
Powerful Documentary" award and has been getting impressive reviews. The
film also shows footage of Matthew before his injury and then tracks his journey
thus far in photos and film clips, including a current update extra.
PLEASE remember this day; remember these men...
Go to the web site. /// Read
the reviews. /// Order
the film. /// A message from Jon's
will also be presenting personalized Honor and Remember
flags to each of the Gold Star Mothers in a very special
ceremony. This flag was designed by a Gold Star father, George A. Lutz, who lost
his son in Iraq in 2005. He, and those of us supporting his cause, seek to
have this flag designated as the official flag of this country to recognize,
remember and honor those who have died in the service for this country.
Read the latest Dispatch.///
Go to the Web Site.
A Message From the Family:
“Throughout every moment of these
life altering experiences, prayer lifted our spirits, gave us comfort, strength,
hope and absolute trust in the power and faithfulness of God. From the moment
that we arrived in Germany, saw Matthew, laid hands on him and prayed, we knew
with certainty that the Lord had him in His loving care.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of our
family, friends, elected officials, local leaders and scores of strangers who
have prayed for Matthew and sent their kind messages, love, gifts and support.
Please continue to pray without ceasing. It IS working!
We are fully confident in a positive
future and an “abundant life” for Matthew!!!
Thank you for the wonderful support of the Special
Operations Care Coalition (who found QLI for us), the amazing folks at QLI who
have helped my son to LIVE again, RRCC who is helping him continue to
grow and learn, and the Ann Arbor VA Hospital who stepped up
to pay for it all after the military insurance refused to cover "cognitive
therapy" (something that MUST CHANGE!)
May God bless each of you.”