BENEFITING: WOUNDED WEAR
EVENT DATE: May 18, 2013
This year during Jumping for a Purpose - our goal is to sponsor not only Wounded Warriors, but their caregivers as well. So many dedicated friends, family members and spouses spend countless hours with their Warriors throughout the recovery process. This journey can home can last weeks, months or years --> and the road to a full recovery a lifetime. The reality most of us don't see is that the caregiver puts their life on hold through the duration of recovery. While it is an honorable and approvpriate sacrifice to make - we the American People - should celebrate those who are bedside with our Warriors getting them through the darkest of times.
Our Wounded and their Caregivers have sacrificed so much for our freedom and the joys of this Country. Let's show them some support by sponsoring a memory they can cherish. Together we can accomlish anything!
Why are we helping Wounded Wear? Our good friends, Andrew and Jill Sullens, have been working with Wounded Wear following Sully's being Wounded in Action, May, 2009. Here is their story...
Andrew (Sully) Sullens served in the United States military for seven years, four of which he served as a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the US Navy and three years as an infantry solider in the GA Army National Guard. He enlisted in 2003 and completed his basic training in Great Lakes, IL. While in the navy, Andrew served 18 months in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba providing security. After his enlistment in the Navy, Andrew returned to his home-town of Dahlonega, GA and began working with the Lumpkin County Sherriff’s office as a patrol officer. While working for Lumpkin County, he decided that his duty as a soldier was not yet over. He decided to enlist again, but this time with the GA Army National Guard, and was assigned to the 1-108th RSTA unit stationed in Dalton, GA. In April of 2009 his unit was activated and deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. While in Afghanistan his team was returning from a combat mission when his truck ran over an I.E.D. Andrew was blown out of the truck and med-evaced. He spent 10 months recovering in Walter reed army medical center and Dwight D. Eisenhower Army medical center. He was medically retired from the Army in April of 2010 and shortly thereafter returned to work for the Lumpkin Co. Sherriff’s office. He continued to work for UPD and then became part of the SWAT team in September 2010. Shortly after becoming a member of the SWAT team his right ankle began to succumb to its injuries. Andrew found his salvaged leg was unable to keep up with the high stress and physical demands of being a Patrol Deputy and SWAT Operator and made the crucial decision to have his right leg amputated below the knee in February 2011. He worked continuously after the surgery to get back to “normal life”. He returned to full duty at the Sheriff’s Office in July 2011 where he graduated from Georgia state SWAT school and Counter Sniper School with his new prosthetic leg. Andrew is currently pursuing his under grad at the University of North Georgia and works with people in the disabled and wounded community helping to empower and motivate people to break through barriers and discover that there is life and adventure after injury.
From the caregiver's perspective:
My husband’s service in the U.S. Military has influenced my life in a way that I could have never predicted. I have experienced firsthand what selfless service means through the eyes of service member, and I was given the opportunity to reciprocate that sense of service to him throughout his military career, even though it meant I had to put my college education on hold. In early 2009, Andrew was activated and deployed with the 48th Brigade of Georgia to Afghanistan. After just three short weeks of being in Afghanistan, his team was assigned a mission and while out, their convoy came under attack and the vehicle he was in ran over an IED. Andrew was in the gunner’s turret and when the IED exploded he was catapulted about 25 feet from the vehicle. Andrew, along with three other soldiers, was life-flighted to Bagram Air Force Base. The next day he was medically evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany where he was stabilized and then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He suffered many broken bones, including his pelvis and right leg and ankle, burns and shrapnel wounds, and traumatic brain injury. Without hesitation, I withdrew from the summer classes that I was enrolled in at North Georgia College and State University and took a leave of absence from work to fly to Washington, D.C. to be by his side. Over the course of the next ten months I lived between a hospital and hotel room. I was able to be with him as he went through rehab and physical therapy and was there to offer support when he needed it. Andrew’s road to recovery was a slow one, and soon we realized that his right ankle was not healing in a manner that would allow him to ever comfortably walk again. After many doctor visits, therapy options and professional opinions, Andrew faced the reality of having to have his right leg amputated below the knee in early 2011. Through pure perseverance and resolve, Andrew is able to not only walk comfortably but he recently completed a 13 mile Spartan Beast Race in October with and prosthetic leg. Andrew not only taught me through this experience that I have what it takes to offer selfless service, but I too could push through adversities and reach my goal of going back to school and earn my Bachelors Degree. I graduated from NGCSU in May of 2011.
~Jill is now pursuing her Masters Degree