Injured and unemployed, John Flanagan was facing a financial crisis.


“I had worked hard for a promotion, so I kept pushing through the pain,” said Sgt. John Flanagan, from Madison, Ala. “I thought it would just go away.”

While at Fort Bliss, Texas, Flanagan was on a truck for field exercise training. Suddenly, what started as a normal day on the job quickly took a turn.

“The equipment wasn’t fastened to the truck, so the rail gave way,” said Flanagan. “Before I knew it, I fell from the truck and the equipment landed on top of me. Everything happened so fast.”

Unknowingly, Flanagan had severely injured his back in the fall.

“I thought it would get better on its own,” said Flanagan. “It got worse … so bad that the Army eventually sent me home. The doctor said the damage was just too severe.”

As a 12-year military member and father of two—ages 5 and 13—Flanagan couldn’t afford to be out of work. Plus, his 5-year-old son has a learning disability and juvenile arthritis, which require a large amount of special attention.

“I joined the military to serve my country and support my family,” said Flanagan. “I never thought I’d be home so soon, injured and unemployed.”

To make matters worse, Flanagan suffered another fall seven months later while running in physical therapy. The pain has been much worse since that day.

With Flanagan unable to do physical work, he and his wife quickly fell behind on bills.

Flanagan reached out for help and was directed to VFW. He then applied for an emergency grant, which he received a month later.

“This grant helped my family tremendously,” said Flanagan. “We got caught up on rent and utilities, and even bought some groceries.”

After 18 months of unemployment, Flanagan now has a job as a government contractor, and is working to get back to what he calls the “new normal.”

“I still can’t play with my kids as much as I’d like to because I have to sit and rest a lot,” said Flanagan, “but I fight to live my life and spend as much time with them as possible. I’m slowly making strides.”

“It means a lot to us that people actually care and are willing to help. If I had the money I would help, too,” Flanagan concluded.



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