Paralyzed Florida veteran fights to help others despite physical challenges
By Emily DeCiccio | Fox News
Injured US Army sergeant with PTSD finds new hopeSergeant Pam Kelly thought she would spend her entire career in the U.S. Army, but that all changed when she suffered a paralyzing accident.
In 2002, Kelly worked sling load operations, which is when a helicopter picks up a load and carries it from one area to another. The 37-year-old instantly became a quadriplegic when one of the helicopter's cables snapped, and the load fell on her.
"It crushed my spine, my head, and both of my shoulders," said Kelly. "I lost everything. I basically lost my soul."
She revealed that her injury had caused her to become isolated from society. But Kelly always had loved athletics, and said that she found a new outlet when she learned about adaptive sports.
She was able to use a special bike, and took up adaptive cycling. "Cycling became my passion and love," she said, "because I still needed to live and to have a purpose."
Licensed Clinical Psychologist Diego Hernandez works with veterans who suffer a wide variety of injuries. He spoke to Fox News about the benefits of adaptive sports, and explained that training and competition provide necessary challenges for personal growth and the physical conditioning needed for health and wellbeing. “I believe adaptive sports creates the opportunity for these service members to discover what they are truly capable of post-injury,” Hernandez said.
Despite all of her setbacks, Pam Kelly, said she’s inspired to improve the world around her. "I want to start helping others to achieve their goals," she said. "They say, once you become a soldier, you're always a soldier, and that's what my motto is today." (Fox News/Michael Bogdonoff)
After three-and-a-half years of dedicating herself to cycling, however, Kelly suffered another setback. She had to have emergency surgery on her elbow, which she said, caused severe damage in the nerve, and gave her limited use of one arm.
In 2015, Kelly found new hope with the group Villagers for Veterans in Sumter County, Florida. The mission of the nonprofit organization is to provide severely injured veterans with tools and services to improve their mobility and independence, and their overall quality of life.
Villagers for Veterans did just that for Kelly. The group helped Kelly receive an all-terrain wheelchair and a Sleep Number bed. The bed helped Kelly effectively sleep at an elevation because she has problems with her esophagus. The nonprofit now is working to build Kelly a smart home in the Villages.
Villagers for Veterans not only has given Kelly tangible tools to improve the quality of her life, but the group has also given Sergeant Kelly a community that believes in her. "Attitude is gratitude,” said Sergeant Kelly, “I've grown a family here."
In 2015, Pam Kelly found new hope with the group Villagers for Veterans in Sumter County, Florida. The mission of the nonprofit organization is to provide severely injured veterans with tools and services to improve their mobility and independence, and their overall quality of life. (Fox News/Michael Bogdonoff)
Marie Bogdonoff is president of Villagers for Veterans and spoke to Fox News about Kelly. "When we first met Sergeant Pam Kelly, she was very withdrawn, quiet, and was not one to talk much," said Bogdonoff. "She saw the love and affection of people here in the Villages, the support that she never had, and so the change has been nothing but miraculous."
Despite all of her setbacks, Kelly, said she’s inspired to improve the world around her. "I want to start helping others to achieve their goals," she said. "They say, once you become a soldier, you're always a soldier, and that's what my motto is today."
Emily DeCiccio is a video producer and writer for Fox Digital Originals. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyDeCiccio
VILLAGES FOR VETERANS IS HELPING SGT. PAM KELLY
WHAT'S GOING ON | FEBRUARY 21, 2018
BY LEIGH NEELY
Tuesday night at Lake Miona Recreation Center in The Villages, the whole gang gathered to lend a hand to Villagers for Veterans. The group had a fundraiser to help Sgt. Pam Kelly, who was injured while training for deployment to Iraq. As result, she lost the use of both legs and her right arm. Previously, the group raised money to help Pam get a service dog.
Now, Villagers for Veterans wants to build a house or modify an existing house in The Villages so Pam can be more independent and do activities on her own. For the fundraiser, Marie decided to get a photo of Pam in front of a typical house in The Villages. The photo was then made into a large jigsaw puzzle. Each person was asked to buy a puzzle piece for $50. Though the puzzle is large, the individual pieces, which are magnetic, are small. Marie hopes this will increase the amount of money the group can raise.
Marie is not shy about helping veterans. She began the organization because she wanted to provide whatever these men and women who served so bravely need to help in healing.
Pam says she had a lot of trouble adjusting to life after her accident. “I had planned to be in the army for life,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do to be a civilian. I felt like I had lost my soul.”
According to her story posted on the Villagers for Veterans website, she became active in adaptive sports and found renewed joy. She excelled in bicycling, swimming, and archery. Unfortunately, this ended when she had to have surgery on her good arm, which left her with painful nerve damage and means more surgeries in the future.
Her small home in Tampa is not equipped for Pam’s wheelchair and the room she needs to move about independently. Villagers for Veterans wants to help her find a home in The Villages, possibly on the historic side, so she can be more independent and get out to enjoy activities in the town square.
A good time was had by all!
If you’d like to donate, go to their website www.villagersforveterans.org and follow the instructions. The fourth annual Orchid Gala, the group’s biggest fundraising event, is April 28, 6-9pm, at Savannah Center in The Villages. Tickets are also available on the website.
Honor Flight Network
Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices.
Oct 2015 - Newsletter - Click here
Our Brave Veterans
By Colleen Young
Our American flag flies high in the breeze
In honor of those in the military
Who fight to keep our country free
Who have died to protect our liberty
Never shirking responsibility
Never avoiding work or their duty
Ready to meet head on obligations
Ready to give all for our nation
Stars and stripes, wave high with pride
Our pledge and allegiance we will not hide
With Respect and honor
And untold wonder
We will always remember
And forever ponder
What our flag stands for
Praise God for our brave veterans
Outstanding men and women
Remaining firm and true to the end
Thank them all again and again
For in service to our great country
They have suffered, bled, and died
Our homeland is kept safe
As they continue to take their place
Living lives of sacrifice
THE BATTLING BOYS OF BENGHAZI
We're the battling boys of Benghazi
No fame, no glory, no paparazzi.
Just a fiery death in a blazing hell
Defending our country we loved so well.
It wasn't our job, but we answered the call,
fought to the Consulate and scaled the wall.
We pulled twenty Countrymen from the jaws of fate
Led them to safety, and stood at the gate.
Just the two of us, and foes by the score,
But we stood fast to bar the door.
Three calls for reinforcement, but all were denied,
So we fought, and we fought, and we fought ‘til we died.
We gave our all for our Uncle Sam,
But Barack Obama didn't give a damn.
Just two dead seals who carried the load
No thanks to us..........we were just
"Bumps In The Road".
Hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them & their families for the selfless acts they perform
for us in our time of need.
In Jesus name,
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY."
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.
He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Veteran died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?
Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.
He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY."
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1,chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
More about the Veterans Crisis Line
Friends of Special Operations Speaks (SOS) We are building a NEW Special Operations Speaks (SOS) and Vets in the Fight (VIF) Website. Please visit our Twitter feed at @SpecOpsSpeaks and our Facebook page "Special Operations Speaks". On weekends listen to the conservative DonSmithShow.com Saturdays, from noon to 2:00pm (ET) and hear our Vets in the Fight Situation Report (SITREP).
"Betrayed" Exposing the High Cost of the War on Terror.
Betrayed’ – Billy Vaughn and MG Vallely’s new book on Extortion 17 (With Foreword By Lt. General ‘Jerry’ Boykin)
“Grief and politics don’t mix. When raw, aching grief and the dirtiest kind of politics meet, a hot volcano of pain and outrage erupts that is unstoppable. But it is necessary. It is the only way things might ever be clean again.” ~ Diana West
The warriors on that CH-47 Chinook helicopter were compromised by their leaders:
Karen & Billy Vaughan's
Son Aaron Vaughan resting in Arlington National Cemetery