Matthew’s Miracles – A Soldier’s Sacrifice









My son, 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 himself.) 




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.  




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 abdomen.


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 dear friend.




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.  




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 2005He 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 in attendance.


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 possibleHe 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 and arms.





On 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.




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 Rove. 


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! 


JANUARY - MARCH 12,  2007

Matthew 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.


In February, Matthew and Lisa traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to check out an awesome facility called Quality Living, Inc. ( 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.


MARCH 12, 2007 - MARCH 10, 2008

Matthew 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.  


QLI 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.


Matthew 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.


Matthew 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.


This 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.


Finally 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! 


When 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, Mom."


When 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 of you!


When he arrived, he couldn't take his medication on his own.  He is now close to being fully independent with taking his medication.


When 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.  


I 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.


MARCH - SEPT. 2008 - 

Matthew 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.  


He 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.


Matthew's 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.


He's a pretty busy guy and now that he's nearby, he's getting even busier.  For example:


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 the speech)


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.


October 2008

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.


The 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.


Speaking 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. 


All 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!). 


So 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. 


On that note, 

October 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. 


We 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 William. 


We 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 Mom 


Matthew 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.”










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