By Christine Bryant
A U.S. soldier serving in Rhamadi, Iraq, Shane Parsons’ life forever changed on Sept. 30, 2006.
Parsons was catastrophically injured when an improvised explosive device was detonated under the Humvee he was driving. His injuries included a severe-anoxic traumatic brain injury, above knee bilateral amputations and post-traumatic stress disorder.
For the past three years, Parsons’ mother, Cindy, has served as a spokesperson for Warriors Speak with the Wounded Warrior Project – the organization that supported her son during his stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and during his long road to recovery.
Now, she is bringing her message of support for the severely wounded soldiers and the organization that assists them to Grove City, speaking at 6:30 p.m. April 29 at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church Life Center, 3730 Broadway. Her son, Shane, will join as well.
“We appreciate the opportunity to bring our story to light, because when the warriors come home, the door closes,” she said. “We needed a window of hope to open, and the Wounded Warrior Project opened Shane’s window.”
Surviving his catastrophic injuries meant years of rehabilitation for Shane Parsons, including re-learning all active daily living skills including reading and writing, and how to live with cognitive deficits and short/long-term memory loss for the remainder of his life.
A registered nurse from a small town in northwest Ohio, Cindy Parsons decided to leave her position and become her son’s full-time caregiver. In 2009, she participated in the Wounded Warrior Project Caregiver Summit in Washington, D.C., where she lobbied Congress for the passage of the Caregiver and Veteran Omnibus Health Service Act of 2010 – a bill that gave assistance and support for those who give care to injured servicemen and women returning from war.
“This opportunity led me to become a strong advocate for wounded warriors and their families when they return back from serving their country,” she said.
Her goal is to educate and enlist the public’s aid in the organization’s 20 programs and services with the mission to honor and empower wounded warriors, she said.
Last September, George Dobrovic, a Knight of Columbus Council 4603 and a member of the newly formed Veteran’s Project’s Committee for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, attended a presentation by Cindy and Shane Parsons and was moved by their message. He invited them to share their story and information about the Wounded Warrior Project with Grove City residents.
“The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left devastatingly wounded kids who would have probably died on the field or shortly thereafter in past conflicts,” Dobrovic said. “The Wounded Warrior Project started by providing a backpack of personal items to returning wounded, but through a need for so much more, has blossomed out to support approximately 20 different programs in hopes of having these wounded become the most well adjusted warriors in our history – body, mind, spirit and financial empowerment.”
For many returning service men and women, the battle continues long after they return from conflict, and they discover that the help they thought they would receive doesn’t begin to cover what they really need, Cindy Parsons said.
“That is why the Wounded Warrior Project is not just committed for today or tomorrow, but for a lifetime,” she said.
The April 29 event, sponsored by Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus Council 4603, will feature a choir singing patriotic songs, a presentation of colors, a Knights of Columbus escort and refreshments.
Dobrovic said the presentation is appropriate for teens and older, and that RSVPs are requested to assist in preparations. For more information, email Lowell Titus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project, go to woundedwarriorproject.org or imeanitwwp.org.