GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018 - 42

home

Welcoming all veterans home

BY LORI BITTER

"Thank you for your service." If our veterans
are very lucky, they get to hear those words
once or twice a year, likely on Veterans Day and
Memorial Day. As civilians we rarely think past
those occasions to what their service entailed
or how they have adjusted to their return to
their homes and families. And when they return
wounded, either physically or psychologically,
that adjustment can be very difficult.

duty service, National Guardsmen come from
the same state, sometimes knowing each other
from childhood, when they serve together. These
"battle buddies" become as close as family. After
an explosion destroyed their HUMVEE, John and
Dale returned home with serious combat-related
injuries. John, who had traumatic brain injury and
other issues, took his buddy role very seriously.
Dale had lost both legs in the explosion and
would spend a year at Walter Reed Army Medical
Center recovering from his injuries. On John's first
weekend pass back in the states, he went to see
Dale.

T

he powerful book, Wounded Homecoming:
The Uphill Journey of Wounded Veterans from
Battlefield to Homefront, tells the story of two
combat-wounded veterans, John Gallina and Dale
Beatty, who served together, were injured together,
and founded the organization Purple Heart Homes
together. Through their own stories, and those of
other disabled veterans, readers start to grasp the
difficulties of returning to civilian life. More than that,
we learn what our oldest and youngest veterans need
to feel part of the community and to really come
"home."

"

"

"

"...we're disabled veterans,
we're not broken . . .we saw
that life doesn't end and injury
doesn't have to define you."

These "battle buddies"
become as close as family

John and Dale were both raised in North
Carolina, serving in the National Guard for several years before being deployed to Iraq during
Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Unlike the Army and other active
42 GRAND

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2018

(L) John Gallina and (R) Dale Beatty,
co-founders of Purple Heart Homes

"

While Dale was able to recover at Fisher House, a
veterans' home, which had ramps, elevators, and wide
doorways to help him live as an amputee, his return
to his own home was very challenging. John, who had
returned to civilian life as a contractor, helped Dale
figure out the design he needed to make his home
more livable. In the end, half of the materials and
labor for Dale's new home were donated, thanks to the
support of his community. The seeds for what would
become Purple Heart Homes were planted.

Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018

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Contents
GRAND Magazine - September/October 2018 - 1
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