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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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"A Christopher Reeve-Type Injury"

Matt and Tracy Keil

Matt and Tracy Keil

The doctors had no way of knowing that Matthew Keil was a huge Superman fan and long time admirer of actor Christopher Reeve when they gave their initial diagnosis. "He has a Christopher Reeve-type injury," they told the family.

Matt was on patrol in Ramadi, Iraq in February 2007 when he was shot by a sniper. The bullet hit his spine, clipped his left lung and an artery. Matt and his family were told that he would never be able to move anything again from his neck down and that he would be on a vent for the rest of his life.

"My first reaction was shock," recalls Matt's wife, Tracy, "I didn't even understand… After the initial shock, it was like, ‘What does this mean?'"

Intent on learning as much as she could about spinal cord injury and recovery and what help was available, Tracy called the Paralysis Resource Center (PRC). "When Matt got an injury similar to Christopher Reeve's, I immediately thought to call the foundation. The PRC sent me a ton of information. They sent me books, all kinds of resources. Everything was helpful."

Tracy read about how Reeve dealt with his injury and how he progressed through his recovery with his wife and family by his side. "We got married six weeks before Matt got shot," she says, "For us starting a family was always part of our plan. And just learning about how life with SCI would be on a day-to-day basis really helped a lot."

For Tracy, the PRC was much more than a source of information. "I didn't know anybody who knew about spinal cord injuries. I called the PRC and could talk to someone. That was a really good feeling. Just knowing that I could sit and talk with someone, and knowing this person had dealt with families like ours a lot before calmed me down when I needed it most."

As of 2008
The Keils are living full lives in Colorado. Back home, Matt can now use his left arm and he is off his vent.  He and Tracy enjoy babysitting Matt's nieces and have not given up hope of having a family of their own someday.

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A Reeve Foundation Fact Sheet on Veterans Benefits (PDF)

Military & Veterans Programs (MVP)

Angel Flight for VeteransVeterans Angel Flight (VAF) facilitates no-cost or reduced-rate patient travel services for needy veterans and their families.

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC)The mission of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is to serve active duty military, their dependents and veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) through state-of-the-art medical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs.

Department of Veterans Affairs -- Benefits AdministrationCommitted to helping veterans get the services they have earned such as patient care and veteran's benefits.

Disabled American VeteransAn organization of disabled veterans focused on building better lives for disabled veterans and their families.

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain InjuryDCoE assesses, validates, oversees and facilitates prevention, resilience, identification, treatment, outreach, rehabilitation, and reintegration programs for psychological health and traumatic brain injury to ensure the Department of Defense meets the needs of the nation's military communities, warriors and families.

Fisher HouseThe Fisher House™ program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Homes For Our TroopsTheir mission is to build specially adapted homes for severely disabled soldiers and their families.

Federal Recovery Coordinator ProgramThe program is designed to cut across bureaucratic lines and reach into the private sector as necessary to identify services needed for seriously wounded and ill service members, veterans and their families.

Homes for Wounded HeroesThis program assist veterans in adapting their homes for a disability that occurred serving in Iraq or Afghanistan at little or no cost for the veteran.

Fallen Patriot FundWas established to help families of U.S. military personnel who were killed or seriously injured during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Injured Marine Semper Fi FundProvides financial assistance and quality of life solutions to marines and sailors injured in combat, training, or with life threatening illness. Can help with associate expenses including purchasing of special equipment, adaptive vans or vehicles, and handicap home purchases and modification.

Military One SourceMilitary OneSource is provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to active duty, Guard and Reserve (regardless of activation status) and their families. Military OneSource is there for military personnel and their families by phone or online.

OEF/OIF ServicesOperation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)

Operation Helping HealProvides financial assistance to wounded service men and women returning from our current overseas military operations.

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA): Spinal Cord InjuryFor more detailed information on the clinical practice guidelines on respiratory management with spinal cord injury you can request booklets from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. These booklets also provide guidelines on proper weaning from a ventilator.

Rebuilding Together's Heroes at HomeHeroes at Homesm was launched by Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings in May 2007. Heroes at Home strives to improve the lives of all low-income U.S. service members, veterans, and military families in need across America by making necessary repairs, improvements, and modifications to their homes.

Rebuilding Together's Veterans Housing InitiativeCreated to meet the growing needs of veterans from past and present wars. The initiative serves to fill the gaps in housing modifications and repair services that retired and active service men and women struggle to meet. Working in partnership with corporate sponsors, Rebuilding Together's Veterans Housing Initiative strives to provide safe and accessible housing for all low-income veterans.

Soldiers AngelsProvides financial assistance to OEF OIF service members and veterans for financial assistance to pay mortgages and utilities.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet: VA and Spinal Cord InjuryOf the more than 250,000 Americans with serious spinal cord injuries and disorders, about 42,000 are veterans eligible for medical care and other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

VA Center LocatorGuide to the over 1300 VA centers in the US broken down by region.

The Wounded Warrior ProjectSeeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world.

Quality of Life Grants DatabaseFind resources within the PRC Quality of Life Grants Database. Search by Zip Code, State or an Entire Category.

Library Books and VideosFind resources within the PRC library catalog.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

The information provided in the Paralysis Resource Center was supported by Cooperative Agreement number 1U59DD000838-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Reeve Foundation and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.