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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Shot on the Fourth of July

James Lathan Jr. with his son James III

James Lathan Jr. with his son James III

"My son, James Lathan Jr. was injured in the war in Iraq, July 4, 2004. He is paralyzed from the neck down. He is 29 years old. I have high hopes that he will walk again." So begins a mother's letter to the PRC requesting help and information.

James was hit in the back of his neck by stray shrapnel from a mortar round. The wounded vet recalls the moment. "I heard the mortar from behind me. The blast knocked me over."

James is now a retired veteran with a C3 level spinal cord injury, ventilator-dependent. He lives at home in Nebraska with his wife and son. James took advantage of all the services offered by the VA but he's not satisfied; he believes there is more recovery ahead.

Armed with information sent to the family by an information specialist at the PRC, James was booked in to the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD for specialized restorative exercises, including riding a bicycle using functional electrical stimulation (FES).

Doctors at Krieger worked with James to improve his head control and worked with his arm and shoulder mobility. "I was able to move my arm a bit. Since muscle groups are connected, I think it was due to my shoulder being freed up," says James, "I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm trying to find a way to go down there and stay awhile."

His mom, Alisa Frieson, feels that sometimes you have to go outside the system to get the extra help you need. "It's just so expensive. To get to the Institute, he has to fly there, and his wife and caretaker. There's the hotel, food. It just gets so expensive." 

After James returned home, Alisa and her husband did some fundraising. The community responded. "One church gave him a van with a lift. One offered to build him a home," she says, "I just appreciate that people showed their support and appreciation."

Meanwhile, James works hard to keep his mind on the things he can do rather than on the things he can't. "I believe where your mind goes, your body follows," he says. One area of interest has been investment banking. He'd like to make some money.

"One day there may be a cure and if it takes money, then hopefully I'll have enough to make it happen. And, you can always help your family."

As of 2008
James is living at home with his family in Nebraska.  He is trying to find a way back to the Kennedy Krieger Institute to continue with his recovery work. He continues to learn as much as he can about banking.

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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.

Paralysis Resource Center 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 ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

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.

ASK OUR EXPERTS
  • Email our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Call our Paralysis Information Specialists
  • Newly paralyzed or spinal cord injured? Start here.
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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.