This is for you, Captain Andrew Chavez, and all the veterans who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. We are fully indebted to you for your service. Andy went to Westpoint from 1998-2002. He was immediately shipped to Germany to serve our country. In 2003, he was with the 2nd wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The military received intel on the suspected location of Saddam's sons and Andy was sent on the raid. While they were setting up for the ambush, the enemy compound fired 1 RPG. The missile blew up Andy’s bunker and it collapsed on top of him. Their team retaliated and successfully defeated both of Suddam's sons in this firefight. However, toxic chemicals from the explosion were released into the air and were ingested by many soldiers. For most, penicillin provided relief, but Andy was allergic to it. Without treatment, he developed a leak in his intestines & the doctors had to induce a coma to slow the chemicals from killing his organs. After 14 surgeries in 3 days, he was placed on dialysis with the hope clean blood would help restart the function of many of his failing organs... but it wasn't working. His temperature skyrocketed to 108 degrees. The doctors placed him and his dialysis machine, inside a tub of ice to try and keep his temperature down, but were unable to manage it. They officially declared him dead on the table; his body had given up. Some how, some way, God looked down said, "This is not your time. Andy you still have some life to live". His heart began to beat again, but lasting damage had been done in the form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Andy gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. To this day, Andy will never be the same. He went through years of therapy to learn how to talk and walk again. To this day, Andy needs assistance walking and talking.
Anyone who knows me well, has probably heard a little bit about Andy and how much he has had an impact on my life. I have been fortunate to spend time with Andy and the Wounded Warrior Project. For those who do not know about the Wounded Warrior Project, this charity gives back to our veterans through free programs & services focused on the physical, mental & long-term financial well being of injured veterans, thier families & caregivers. I was able travel with Andy and the veterans on a few of their trips to Breckenridge, CO & San Diego, CA. In my time with them, in both the winter & summer, I've learned they just want to feel normal again. They want to do normal things such as skiing, snowboarding, biking, surfing, swimming, kayaking & walking. It may not seem like much, but these activities temporarily take away the pain & help them forget about the scars &/or missing limbs; even if only for a few days. Not one of these vets has the attitude of "why me?" but rather "this is who I am now & I'm going to be my best". As many of you know, I live a very fast-paced life with little down time. I make time for this because these people have given their lives and limbs in service of their country and it is an honor to give something back to them. Lets ride for our troops!