WINCHESTER, Calif., Nov. 8, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- It was the day before Christopher O'Connor's twentieth birthday. The heat all around him was blistering, but that did nothing to change his upbeat mood. O'Connor, a U.S. Marine gunner serving in Iraq, was a month away from returning home when tragedy struck, changing his life forever.
"My platoon was headed into an area known to be extremely dangerous. We'd been searching all day long for IEDs when we came to railroad tracks and had to cross by foot," said O'Connor.
"I'd only made it a few steps when I was blasted," he said, recalling the awful moment. "I remember a bright red flash, then flying through the air," O'Connor said. Not yet aware of his condition, O'Connor said it was the first time in his life he felt genuine fear. "I don't know if it's because I was so young or because I'm a Marine—maybe both, but up until then I thought I was invincible."
O'Connor had been badly wounded though, suffering severe back and brain injuries.
Following his medical discharge, O'Connor moved to Florida to be closer to family while receiving care in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) program. O'Connor said that one of the worst things about TBI is losing the ability to concentrate.
During his treatment, however, O'Connor was introduced to Help Hospitalized Veterans' (HHV) arts and crafts kits that aided his therapy in an unexpected way.
"The first thing I thought when I was given a craft kit was 'I can't do that', but as it turned out, I could," O'Connor said. "Working on those kits helped so much because I didn't want to focus on my problems during free time, but I didn't want to just watch TV either," O'Connor added. "The arts & crafts kits became something to do that not only helped me be constructive with my time, but really helped with my concentration skills."
O'Connor also received a new computer system from HHV which he said made a huge impact on his life.
"I was really surprised to learn that eligible veterans could receive free computers, too," he said. "I now have access to the Internet which has been great for staying in touch with the guys from my outfit," he said. "It's also helping me with school and my rehabilitation. I want to thank all the donors to this program who make these types of resources available for us vets," O'Connor said.
"HHV's Special Projects division has provided over 2,200 brand new computer systems to qualifying veterans," said Mike Lynch, HHV president and CEO, "with dozens of operating systems being voice-activated to accommodate veterans who have lost the use of their hands," he added. "The systems have helped military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, with furthering education, with finding and communicating with comrades and family and myriad other ways."
If you are a veteran, call 888-567-VETS (8387) ext. 112 to learn how you may receive products from Help Hospitalized Veterans.
CONTACT: Frank Cimorelli 928-771-2071 firstname.lastname@example.orgSource: Help Hospitalized Veterans