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Picking Up the Pieces

Iraq Vets: Radio Transcript

How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War.

The following is the transcript from the AARP Prime Time Radio special, "Picking up the Pieces: How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War." Listen now.

Rory Dunn | Shane Parsons | Ramiro Martinez | Shurvon Phillip | Ryan Autery

Sal Martinez: I remember getting blown up and waking up sitting in the vehicle. Which was unusual, because I’d gotten blown up six times prior to this one and I’d never fallen… (fades)

Rory Dunn: It seemed dark to me, because I got my eye blown out of the side of my head and the other eye had been popped out and there was blood all over.

AARP Radio Host Mike Cuthbert: Perhaps you’ve heard a lot of stories like these from Iraq and Afghanistan,…but maybe not so many like these…

Cynthia Lefever: I just got down in his face and said, 'This is your mother, and you will not die.' I was not going to accept that he was going to become a vegetable.

Gail Ulerie: I can’t go to the doctor or anywhere, because I don’t have any health insurance. I just pray that God is going to give me health and strength to take care of Shurvon.

Mike Cuthbert: This hour from 'Prime Time Radio,' 'Picking up the Pieces: How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War.' Join us.

Mike: I’m Mike Cuthbert with a special edition of 'Prime Time Radio.' Every day, U.S. military doctors and their staffs perform miracles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers who get their arms or legs blown off, and others who have their heads blown open or their brains rattled, are surviving injuries that would have been fatal in any previous war. Many will live long and rewarding lives. Others won’t.

But the care of these survivors is often falling on their families. Mothers and fathers of our wounded veterans are putting their lives on hold, giving up their jobs, leaving—even losing—their homes, and spending down their retirement savings to care for their sons and daughters.

These are their stories…and we warn you that some of the details are raw and graphic. Our guide is Barry Yeoman, contributing editor of AARP The Magazine.

MUSIC

Rory Dunn

Barry: If you’ve arrived at Walt Disney World this autumn day, expecting an escape from the real world, you might be surprised when you check into the Dolphin Resort, just outside the Magic Kingdom. Here, you would see dozens of young men and women back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Some are using wheelchairs and canes to get around. Or they’re leaning on the arms of loved ones. Others carry noticeable burn wounds. They have come to this gathering of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes to attend a job fair, learn about benefits, and relax with others who understand what war is like.

Dave Roever understands. … Roever was burned over most of his body when a phosphorous grenade exploded right next to him. That was in Vietnam, where he was part of an elite Navy unit. Now, Roever is a motivational speaker with a flair for humor and a special interest in wounded veterans. he asks for a stool to sit on, and gives a quick wave of thanks when somebody brings one to him…

Dave Roever: That means, 'Thumbs up!' You gotta have a thumb though. That means, 'Thumbs up.' My thumb was blown off. I’ve spoken sign language since I was a child. Now I speak sign language with a lisp; I’m kind of like 'thumb-tied'…
...They made this out of my hip. I don’t even know if it’s a thumb or a hip… I don’t suck it though; I’ll tell you that… (laughter). It’s great to hear you laugh this morning. I will laugh this morning …

Barry: Among those in the crowd, it’s hard not to notice 26-year-old Rory Dunn. He’s a handsome man with a shaggy beard and an eyepatch that sets off his mischievous grin. Later, when he talks about the explosion he survived in Iraq, just before his 22nd birthday, I marvel that he is here at all.

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