When times got tough, VFW got tougher

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TSgt Terry Garner was stationed with the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard at Camp Anacon in Balab, Iraq, just outside Baghdad.

One night, without warning, mortars began to fly into the base. The enemy had surrounded the camp.

Garner scrambled to escape the fire. Racing for his life, he found safety behind a cement bunker.

“Another soldier was fleeing the mortar fire,” Garner described. “He flew behind the bunker and landed violently on my back.”

Garner emerged from the attack with a herniated disc on vertebrae L4, L5 and S1. Immediately, he was transported to a field hospital.

Three surgeries alleviated Garner’s pain, but he was left 100% disabled. He could no longer return to his job as a paper mill inspector.

In a tragic twist of fate, his wife Shelly suffered a massive stroke around the same time. She, too, permanently lost her job. Before they knew it, the Garners’ income was sliced in half. They worked to stretch every penny until VA compensation would kick in.

However, house and car payments refused to wait.

“When it rains, it pours,” recalled Garner.

Learning about VFW Unmet Needs from a friend, Garner received enough assistance to cover his home and car expenses for several months.

“It was absolutely great! I can’t say any more. I never realized organizations like VFW could help in such a way.”

Garner and his wife recognize the road ahead will not become easier, but that hasn’t led them to dwell upon the past.

“Things happen, but you gotta keep going,” concluded Garner.



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