Cynthia: I don’t know if it’s gonna be in five years or 10 years or 20 years, I believe Rory is destined for something really great. Sometimes we think with his sense of humor, he’d be like the most awesome radio-show host. And other times I think with his compassion and big heart and his ability to understand where other people are coming from, that he would make an awesome counselor, social worker.
Barry: When we come back, more stories of pain and hope from around the country; and later, we’ll travel to Nashville, where an Iraq war veteran is starting a new life… as a country music singer/songwriter… when 'Picking Up The Pieces' continues…
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AARP Radio Host Mike Cuthbert: You’re listening to 'Picking up the Pieces: How Family and Faith Are Healing Veterans Home From War." You can find out more about families caring for their veteran sons and daughters at AARP.org/iraqvets. There, you can read an investigative report by Barry Yeoman, see a television special presented by Jane Pauley, featuring ABC newsman Bob Woodruff, and see segments on caregiving for veterans from our TV shows 'Inside E Street' and 'My Generation.' This is 'Prime Time Radio.'
Here again is Barry Yeoman, and 'Picking up the Pieces':
Barry Yeoman: We’ve just been visiting with Cynthia Lefever, her son Rory Dunn, and her husband Stan. We heard how draining it was for Cynthia to devote herself to Rory’s recovery, even with Stan’s love and support.
In San Antonio Texas, Cindy Parsons has been nursing her son Shane back to health without any such support. Shane’s dad died when he was six months old—and she was 29. Two of his grandfathers served in the military—one in World War II, and one in Korea—so when the country was attacked in 2001, Shane’s path was pretty much set. As you listen to him, remember that, since his injury, he sometimes uses the wrong word for something, like 'amputated' instead of 'amplified.'
Shane: During high school – it was my like my junior year or senior—around junior or sophomore year—I saw the World Trade Center hit on 9/11. And it was always a thought, and it just amputated to the point where it just happened. It just gave me another calling.
I talked to my grandfather, and I let him know. He was the one in Normandy, on the Parson side. And I asked him, and I told him I was thinking about joining up.
When I found out my grandfather was real ill, that he had really bad heart problems, on his—pretty much on his deathbed, I told him—I said, 'I’m going in.' And a couple—it was, like, four or five weeks after that, he passed away. So that’s when my journey started.
Barry: Shane’s journey brought him to the same place that Rory Dunn’s brought him: to a dangerous road in Iraq where a roadside bomb was waiting.
Shane: We were on our way back to chow, and then, boom, it happened. I just heard a little pop, a little, like, explosion. It didn’t sound that much. It sounded like a broke—like somebody breaks their leg or like a broken piece of wood. That’s what it sounded like. And I look down, and I couldn’t see that much. And I knew I was in pain. I was, like, you know when you stub your toe or you do something and you try and walk it off. I knew that, and I was, like, 'I can’t walk this off.' That’s when the Iraqis started to rush us, and it got pretty bad.
Barry: Shane figures it was less than an hour, though it seemed like several hours, that they were under attack—and the outcome was in doubt, until rescuers arrived in tanks. But during the attack, Shane realized that his legs were mangled…
Shane: I went to take my boot off, and that’s when I had– I knew something was up. I went to take my boot off, and I pulled and I unlaced it everything, and I was, like, pulled the boot off and a couple of things came with it. Not only my shoe but– well, the detail you can imagine.
Barry: Meanwhile, in Fostoria, Ohio, Cindy Parsons was just off the night shift at her nursing job.