Home > NewsRelease > Memorial Day Concert in Naples, FL, to Benefit Most Severely Wounded Vets
Text Movie Graphics
Memorial Day Concert in Naples, FL, to Benefit Most Severely Wounded Vets
Carolyn Long --  Angels Over America Carolyn Long -- Angels Over America
Naples, FL
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Staff Sargeant José Pequeño & Lance Corporal John ‘JT’ Doody
Video Clip: Click to Watch
Naples, FL, May 20, 2010__

Memorial Day Concert in Naples, FL, to Benefit Most Severely Wounded Vets

Naples, FL, will host a Memorial Day Purple Heart Concert to benefit two of the nation?s most severely wounded vets, featuring country music star Michael Peterson and Gospel Music Artist Clint Brown, at 6:00 pm, Monday, May 31, at Cambier Park, Naples, FL.

?Staff Sergeant José Pequeño and Lance Corporal John ?JT? Doody have sacrificed their independence?and their lives as they knew them?so the rest of us can continue to live in freedom,? says Gary Kluckhuhn, concert organizer and advocate for the disabled. ?We want to celebrate their extraordinary progress, and show them the country cares and appreciates their service.?

Proceeds from the suggested $30 concert donations will go toward the purchase of a home for Staff Sergeant José Pequeño and a therapeutic pool for Marine Lance Corporal John P. Doody.

?These vets are now dependent on their families, caregivers and technology for their most basic needs,? says Kluckhuhn. ?We have the resources to restore some semblance of dignity and independence to them and their families for all they have given. This concert will help to do that?and lift their spirits!? (www.FGCU.org)

Staff Sergeant José Pequeño was introduced to the country as the most severely wounded vet returning from the Iraq war at last year?s Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington, DC.* Lance Corporal John P. Doody was also severely injured in fighting in Iraq. Neither was expected to survive, but the dedication of their families and doctors has enabled them to progress beyond anyone?s expectations. Both men now live near the James A. Haley VA Polytrauma Center in Tampa, FL, and are in critical need of support in order to continue living with their families and making such steady progress.

José Pequeño enlisted in the Marines at age 17, and following his discharge, joined the National Guard. At 29, he was married, the father of three children, and the youngest police chief in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. When his Guard Unit was called up, though he had fulfilled his military duty, he volunteered to deploy to Iraq to use his training to help others and ?ensure the safe return of the younger men in his Unit to their families.?

On March 1, 2006, an insurgent tossed a grenade into his Humvee, instantly killing the driver and blasting Pequeño out the door of the Humvee. Although half his skull was gone, a medic cleared his airway and got him out of Iraq to a hospital in Germany, from which he was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. After stays in several other VA hospitals, he was sent to the Tampa VA Polytrauma Center.

His mother, Nelida Bagley, and sister, Elizabeth, left their homes and quit their jobs, and one or the other has been with José every minute of the past four years. It is just such vigilance that doctors say is the reason he is doing so well. Dr. Steven Scott, Medical Director of the Polytrauma Center, said ?Pequeño's injury is one of the most severe ? if not the most severe ? of that of any survivor of this war.?

José cannot move or talk, but after 21 surgeries and ongoing therapy, he has made great progress in communicating with clear facial expressions, eye movements and sounds. His joy at simple pleasures is evident even in his photos. Dr. Scott?s only explanation for the incredible progress José has made is that ?Love is better than any medicine.?

For the past four years, his mother and sister have had one goal: To get and keep him home. With the help of the American Legion?s Heroes to Hometowns program, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and many other organizations and individuals, they achieved that goal in December 2008. José is now in a home retrofitted to accommodate his special needs, where he is able to lead as normal a life as possible. It is a place where his children can visit with him; where his therapy dog can stay with him; where his mother can prepare his food. But they are at serious risk of losing their home. This would force the family to place José in a nursing home, away from his loved ones and the intensive care they are able to give him at home. To learn more about Jose or help his family purchase his home, go to: www.aleethia.org/stories/jose/jose_story.php

JT joined the Marines in 2005, at the age of 22. Two years later, in March 2007, while fighting in Iraq, he was severely injured by sniper fire. He was flown to a Naval hospital in the States and was recovering from his wounds, when he contracted endocarditis, a blood infection, which caused a stroke, anoxic brain damage, and left him blind, paralyzed and in a vegetative state for six months. His prognosis was grim.

JT?s family left home and careers to relocate from Idaho to Tampa when JT was transferred to the VA Polytrauma Unit there. Thanks to the determination of JT, his family and doctors, he began his long journey back with his second ?first words? in April of 2008, when he said, ?Mom.? He is now living at home, fully cognizant and speaking, and has regained partial sight and some use of his hands and one arm.

The challenge now is to get him the therapeutic pool which the family is advised is JT?s best hope to regain mobility and muscle tone. To learn more about JT or help him get a therapy pool, go to: www.HELPJT.com

*The Naples Memorial Day Concert is Florida?s response to the 2009 National Memorial Day tribute to wounded veterans. A video about Jose, featuring Diane Wiest and Katie Holmes, can be seen at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck3zw6NUF60

Though a bill has been passed to assist caregiving families, it will be a year before it takes effect. Meanwhile, these families have left their homes and jobs to be near their sons at the Tampa VA Hospital, and are struggling to survive.

?A warm welcome to these vets at the Purple Heart Memorial Holiday Events will remind these men and their families they are not alone,? says Kluckhuhn.

This event is a call to action for Angels Over America to move the heart of the nation to care for our injured warriors. 

#     #     #      #

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Carolyn Long
Title: Author, Executive Producer
Group: Angels Over America
Dateline: Annapolis, MD United States
Direct Phone: 443-250-0222
Main Phone: 443-250-0222
Cell Phone: 443-250-0222
Jump To Carolyn Long --  Angels Over America Jump To Carolyn Long -- Angels Over America
Contact Click to Contact