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GIVING BACK TO A SELFLESS HERO

Sometimes one good thing creates a domino effect ...

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During his first deployment to Iraq, Senior Airman Christopher Cates jumped to the aid of a fellow hero …

A fuel line exploded on the second story of a building, flooding fuel into the man’s eyes, nose and mouth. Cates ran from his truck and carried the man to a nearby building where he rinsed his eyes with a chemical wash.

After providing some short-term relief, Cates escorted the man to the emergency room. As the pure adrenaline wore off, Cates was struck by the pain of his own injury. Somewhere in the madness, Cates severely injured his left wrist.

After several surgeries to correct damage to tendons and bones, Cates was released from the military on two days notice. This unexpected twist of fate left Cates stuck in Las Vegas, injured, jobless and awaiting benefits.

“I was supposed to be medically boarded and medically retired but an error got me administratively discharged. I was heading down a really dark tunnel,” said Cates. “I worried about my wife and 2-year-old son. How would we get by with just one income?”

After four months, Cates found a job at an insurance brokerage firm in Austin, but the location meant the family would have to move.

“We had blown through our entire savings,” said Cates. “I picked up a second job when we got to Austin, but it still wasn’t enough to get us out of the hole we were in.”

Out of options, Cates followed the advice of a VA employee and applied for a VFW Unmet Needs grant. Within a few weeks, Cates’ application was approved.

“I am so grateful that VFW provides this option for people in my situation,” said Cates.

Cates used the grant to pay his rent and buy groceries for his family of three.

Since receiving the grant, Cates was granted his long-awaited disability benefits from the VA.

“Sometimes all you need is for one good thing to happen, creating a domino effect,” said Cates. “I will never forget what VFW has done for my family, and I will try every day to pay it forward.”

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