Shot on the Fourth of July
"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
Dragon SystemsVoice activation at its finest, the Dragon Systems technology is used not only to operate laptops and pda's but can even control multimedia centers, navigation systems, mobile phones and much more.
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.
Homes For Our TroopsTheir mission is to build specially adapted homes for severely disabled soldiers and their families.
Paralyzed Veterans AdministrationThe PVA’s veterans benefits department and network of national service officers provide assistance to veterans with spinal cord dysfunction.
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.
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