Monday, October 26, 2009

Project Valour-IT, Carren's perspective

Project Valour-IT is more than giving a laptop and voice-activated software to our wounded warriors. It's about bringing a sense of normalcy, outreach, and an outlet to our service members who shed their blood, sweat, tears, and body parts on the battlefield.

Chuck started this blog in March 2005, just 2 months into his deployment to Iraq. It quickly gained readership and became his outlet on many fronts. He told me he didn't want to "burden" me with things he was thinking about, so his blog became his outlet. I didn't really "get" the whole concept of a blog at first, then, when he was wounded on 21 June, a mere 6 months into his deployment, I began to understand the power of this blog.

While in the hospital at Walter Reed, Chuck wanted to blog SO BAD that we even tried to have him dictate what he wanted to say while I wrote it down (on paper). After about 5 minutes, we both became frustrated and stopped. I felt helpless. I couldn't help him say what was on his mind and he couldn't type it out. It was tense in the room for a while as we both tried to figure out how to resolve this issue.

Shortly thereafter, Chuck spoke to Patti Patton-Bader (founder of Soldiers' Angels) and he asked for a laptop. Patti sent him a laptop and we were thrilled! We set it up in his hospital room with a sense of relief and resolve to our previous frustration. Then, when Chuck tried to blog... he could only get a few sentences out. Both of his hands were heavily bandaged and he could only use two of his fingers on his right hand. His left hand, at that point, was useless. Fortunately, Chuck's few sentences sent overwhelming responses of Dragon Naturally Speaking software.

Once again, Chuck was able to blog. This is a post he wrote just before Project Valour-IT kicked off in 2005.

Not only was Chuck able to blog with his new laptop and voice-activated software, I was able to relax a little bit more. Instead of trying to figure how to get Chuck some sort of outlet, I knew he had one. Instead of going to the Mologne House every night, wondering how Chuck will manage throughout the night, I knew he had an outlet. Instead of feeling guilty as hell when I went somewhere without him (for ME time), I knew Chuck had his connection to the outside world.

The laptop and software were truly a gift that can not be put into words. Even after Chuck was initially discharged from Walter Reed, we returned MANY times for subsequent surgeries. His Valour-IT laptop and software were always there for him, especially when he couldn't type with his hand(s). I could go on all day about how amazing this program is...

This post is not a request for donations, although that would be wonderful. The intent of this post is to give you my perspective of how Valour-IT can be so healing to our wounded warriors and their families. If anything, I ask that you share this post with everyone in your e-mail/facebook/blog list and let them decide whether they want to donate.

For those who decide to donate, please click here. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart!