DONATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR VETS At the SMART 2016 Business Agents’ Conference last August in Chicago, attendees made generous personal contributions to SALUTE, INC., an Illinois-based group that delivers short-term financial assistance to bridge temporary income gaps and meet the basic needs of post-9/11 veterans. So far this year, SALUTE has raised $210,370 from SMART local unions, all of which was spent on helping 236 injured veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life. That transition is often difficult, especially where there has been an injury. Below are two Veterans that were helped by SALUTE, INC., and by the generous spirit of SMART and its members. Ryan C. (Army, Purple Heart Recipient) Ryan enlisted in the Army in early 2008. A short time later, he was deployed to Iraq and then to Afghanistan. While serving there, his platoon was ambushed. Ryan bravely positioned himself to draw enemy fire and allow his men to exit safely. However, he did not escape unharmed; he suffered a severe head injury that damaged both frontal lobes. Ryan underwent multiple surgeries to repair the damage. He suffered three strokes during his recovery and contracted a dangerous brain infection. Although he was not expected to survive, Ryan managed to pull through his extended recovery and his rehabilitation period as well. Ryan now suffers from severe cognitive impairment and requires 24-hour care. His family is attempting to build an adaptive home that will provide Ryan the independence and quality of life that he deserves. With the family’s personal savings exhausted, SALUTE, INC. has contributed funds for the down payment on the special new home for Ryan and his family. Without SALUTE financial support, this new home would not be possible. Travis R. (Navy, Petty Officer, 2nd Class) Travis served in the Navy from 2003– 2010 and was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. After his discharge, Travis searched for a career that would utilize his military skills and provide a steady income. He enrolled in a disabled veterans program at a local college and is pursuing a degree in HVAC as well as an additional endorsement for his welding license. While attending school, some difficult situations set Travis back financially and he was unable to pay all of his utility bills. SALUTE, INC. paid his outstanding bills—and prevented the electric company from shutting off his service—so he could continue his studies with the goal of securing a stable job and promising future. Travis expressed his thanks: “[SALUTE] helped me out so much in the time of need. I was able to buckle down and focus on school and not stress out about being left in the dark.”
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