Help Jim, Army Vet the VA Forgot

$23,185 of $100,082 goal

Raised by 85 people in 43 months
I'm the administrator at a personal care home for the elderly in Southwest Georgia.   When Jim came to our home he was a 59 year-old Army Major who served in Iraq.  His tour of duty brought him into contact with explosions that his family believes are connected to his condition (TBI), but the VA has denied him all claims thus far and for reasons they have not revealed they did not even grant him a disabled status.  He is getting NO HELP from the VA or the Army towards any kind of recovery.

Two and a half years before coming to our home, Jim began to have difficulty writing; the words came to mind, but somehow couldn't find their way onto the page.  It was like he just forgot how to write every once in a while.  As time passed, this issue became increasingly worse until one day he suffered what has been diagnosed as a massive stroke which rendered him unable to communicate verbally or in writing, affected his short term memory, and had rendered his right side inoperable.

This event has forced his wife Jan to become the breadwinner in the family, and as Jim needed constant attention he spent the next two years at home with his father.  During this time the VA did nothing to help him.  His father did the best he could with his aging physical ability, resources and training.  Over time, it became clear that Jim was still mentally aware of things as he recognized everyone he saw who he knew previously, he knew what kind of music he liked, what TV shows he enjoyed, and he still loved to listen to recordings of his pastor's teaching.  Jim was just incapable of communicating anything other than emotional responses such as laughing, crying, or frustration.  Eventually, Jim regained the ability to answer "yes" and "no" questions verbally, and say "gosh" when something amazes him, but no other verbal communication has been possible nor any ability to communicate in writing.  

Early on, Jim's father recognized that he was no longer physically able to continue to be his primary caregiver and the family reached out to us for help.  Jan was also providing care for her mother who had Alzheimer's Disease, and there was no budget for Jim to be able to afford to live in our personal care home.  We took him in on a "pay what you can" basis.  Most months Jan cannot afford anything, but she still pays what she can, and donations form friends and people donating thru the Go Fund Me site have helped, but these donations as generous as they have been still only account for about 25% of his cost of care.

Shortly after moving into our home, the VA finally approved some PT, OT, and speech therapy, but this only lasted for six weeks.  Due to the short term of this rehab Jim regained some ability to walk but only with the assistance of another person using a gait belt and Jim using a hemi-walker.  He has since declined back to being fully wheelchair dependent.  He was unable to retain any verbal training he learned in speech therapy, unable to remember certain things that he needed to do before walking such as make sure his affected foot was in his AFO (Ankle-Foot Orthotic) and where to put his good hand when attempting to stand, and his balance is still wobbly after being cued into standing position.  He always needs somebody with him when walking, and is unable to use the bathroom without assistance.  

Friends and family, not to mention his Physical Therapist, were all very impressed with the progress he made with walking again after two years of no therapy in this area.  However, he has since regressed in this area as his current AFO causes him too much discomfort to wear sometimes even causing skin tears.  Later, he received a new AFO that members of his church family have arranged to pay for, and we were hopeful that he would regain the drive to continue practicing walking.  He has not tried to walk in several years now.  He is very mobile nevertheless as he uses his feet to move around in a wheelchair, but even in that we are very hopeful that the new AFO will be comfortable enough for him to wear all the time as even when he uses his chair to get around his affected foot is always turned up on its side and this will eventually affect the shape of his ankle bones and muscle structure to where he will become unable to straighten it out to attempt to walk or even transfer from chair to vehicle, chair to bed, etc.  

The funding we hope to raise for Jim would be specifically used to cover the expenses of his daily living needs here in our personal care home ($2820 mo.), pay the expenses of having a daylight sitter/companion (at least $750 mo. at 4 hours a day on weekdays, up to $2100 mo. at 8 hours daily) with the training to work with him full time on his walking, speaking and other daily activities he has difficulty with, and to get him the quality implements he needs to regain some independence (cost will vary).  As of 2018 we began researching some new breakthroughs with brain injuries after seeing a documentary called,  "The Brain That Changes Itself"  .  Our current goal is to get some professional help in this field known as brain plasticity. 

The bottom line is, Jim is a relatively young man to be faced with such a debilitating illness, and his limitations are terribly frustrating for him.  He is the sweetest man I have ever met.  I knew Jim before he came to be in our care, and he was always the kind of guy who would do anything he could for someone in need.  I am personally honored to be able to give back to him now in his time of need, but his needs truly exceed the limited resources he currently has or any of his friends or loved ones can assist with, and I am certain that with the right duration and type of care, rehab, and attention that is needed for him to create new neural pathways to doing certain tasks would allow him to accomplish so much more.  And even if his therapists are right in their low expectations of his ability to do these things, the money would greatly improve his quality of life and I hope you will find it in your heart to help this man who has given so much of himself to others and now finds himself in need.

Followup to the news story in this posting: NOTHING came from our meeting with VA Sec. Bob McDonald.  He would not even return his wife's calls to his "private" number that he gave her on the day Sec. McDonald met with us.

For more about our personal care home, Seymour Southern Comforts, please check out www.sscomforts.com.
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A wonderful walk down memory lane created by Jim's very close friend Ron Underdahl.
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Yesterday I sent an email to VSO @independencefund.org regarding Jim's situation. Independence Fund's stated mission statement says, "The Independence Fund’s mission is to empower our severely wounded Veterans and their Caregivers to take control of their lives. We provide the resources and tools that enable Veterans to regain their independence, and fight for their ability to sustain it." After learning about new studies in what's called "plasticity of the brain" (see video "The Brain that Changes Itself"), I believe that with the right therapy Jim still has a chance to recover more of his capabilities. I am hoping Independence Fund can help us make this happen. Please send them an email about Jim if you agree.
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Thank you to the 4 donors who contributed to Jim's care so far this month. Your contributions to the cost of his care are both welcome and needed. Truly, thank you!
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Just a reminder for Giving Tuesday; the goal amount for Jim is not what we think we need to help him, it is the current real-time cost of his care to date.
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$23,185 of $100,082 goal

Raised by 85 people in 43 months
Created May 27, 2015
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DB
$25
Diana Boothby
1 month ago (Offline Donation)

Thank you!

$200
Anonymous
1 month ago (Offline Donation)
$100
Anonymous
1 month ago (Offline Donation)
DB
$25
Diann Boothby
1 month ago (Offline Donation)
$200
Anonymous
3 months ago (Offline Donation)
DB
$25
Diana Boothby
3 months ago (Offline Donation)

Thank you!

$200
Anonymous
3 months ago (Offline Donation)
JN
$400
James Nicholson
4 months ago (Offline Donation)

Your continued grace towards Jim's needs is truly appreciated!

DB
$25
Diann Boothby
4 months ago (Offline Donation)

Your continued grace towards Jim's needs is truly appreciated!

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