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ROUTINE SURGERY TAKES DRASTIC TURN FOR CAREER SOLDIER

VFW Unmet Needs helps family through medical and financial crisis.

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At 18, fresh out of high school, Robert Garritson answered his country’s call and joined the Army. Now, 10 years later, he’s reenlisted twice—serving in Iraq and Egypt.

Unfortunately, Robert’s military career hit a roadblock when he went in for what he thought was a routine gallbladder surgery.

“He was having the worst pain in his stomach … vomiting and sweating,” said Robert’s wife of 10 years, Stephanie. “The doctors removed his gallbladder and we thought it was over.”

But Robert’s pain continued, and he grew more and more ill. He underwent dialysis, blood transfusions, suffered infections and blood clots. He almost died.

It took the doctors three months to figure out what was wrong.

“Robert had a hematoma on his liver,” said Stephanie. “The sac around his liver and his bile duct had accidentally been cut during surgery. There was no other way to explain it. The doctors messed up.”

The hospital stays were very hard on Robert and Stephanie’s 9-year-old son, Ashton. And with Robert out of work, Stephanie worried for her family.

When Stephanie heard about VFW Unmet Needs grants and how they help military families through financial emergencies, she decided to apply.

“The application process was easy,” said Stephanie. “All we had to do was provide proof of our bills to our representative, who was the biggest help and did most of the work.”

With that, Stephanie was awarded a grant to help with bills, groceries and doctor visits.

“This grant came when we needed it most. We were almost on the streets,” said Stephanie. “It was more than we could have ever asked for, and we want to thank everyone who made this happen for us.”

Robert is still on the road to recovery but has made some good progress.

“This is the hardest thing we have ever gone through,” said Stephanie. “We just hold on to hope that it will be over soon.”

“When my family was at its lowest—when I was struggling to survive—my military family was there for us,” said Robert.

“I wouldn’t be here without them.”

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