Helpful Veteran

About two weeks ago, my family and I enjoyed a few days in Burlington, Vermont, visiting friends with whom we rented out a house from a couple who live nearby. We got there late Friday night and left on Monday.

From the beginning of this trip, we were always doing something. On one particular day, we attended the Champlain Valley Fair. Besides enjoying the fair itself, we also enjoyed a concert by the popular a capella (music with no instruments) band known as Pentatonix.  Though I thought they put on a real nice show, it was a discussion- before the concert- with a  veteran trying to raise money for his fellow wounded veterans that I remember the best. Here’s why:

When we came upon Mike, he was raising money to help his fellow wounded soldiers along with himself, a soldier who had been wounded in Kuwait, an injury at the base of his back that left him almost completely immobile from the waist down. Now, I would never wish what happened to Mike on anyone, but he seems to be handling this life-altering incident real well.  Though he sometimes uses a wheelchair,Mike had been out trying to help his fellow soldiers. There was no tearful pleas or desperate attempts to get people to give him money. Instead, he had been trying to tell people his story in order to help out himself and fellow wounded soldiers.

We learned another amazing thing about Mike when he explained to us that, shortly after having a section at the base of his brain removed, a procedure that was done to prevent Mike from being totally paralyzed from the waist down. The reason that I emphasized the word totally in the previous sentence was because Mike is able to occasionally get around on his feet with the help of crutches when he needs to walk, helping him to balance and move around easier.

It was also after this procedure on his head that Mike began to have petit mal seizures. Even so, he has been handling that challenge with help from a little friend: his specially trained long-haired chihuahua named Nico. A tiny hound who felt quite comfy sitting on Mikes’ lap while were were talking, Nico has been trained to detect signs that Mike may be about to have a seizure. When he detects those slight signs, Nico will leap up and lick Mike’s neck in. In doing this,  Nico is able to simulate blood flow through Mike’s jugular vein, in turn lessening the severity of his seizures. This puppy’s actions are very important no matter where Mike is but, in my opinion, more valuable when seizures try to break through while Mike is driving his specially built, hand-operated van because he explained to us that, from the time his dog detects a seizure and acts to slow down or stop it, he has to get his car off the road, out of harms way, to prevent injuring himself or others.

Even though everyone has  different problems, big or small,  that they must face and deal with in their lives, not everyone knows how to deal with them properly. Mike’s problems appear to be a little tougher than the average person but he is living with purpose rather than making or portraying himself as a victim. Thank you for serving our country, Mike, and may you find continued happiness and success in your life.

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