As the U.S. military budget faces the chopping block and great reductions in troop levels to save money, American service men and women continue to pay the price for their service on our behalf.
This week, another serviceman received a hero's welcome when he came to spend some time with family in Cape Coral.
U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Josh Hargis was greeted by well-wishers and escorted home via a motorcade led by the Patriot Guard Riders and law enforcement personnel.
We thank him for his service, and we wish him well when he returns to Texas for continuing rehabilitation for injuries suffered in Afghanistan.
On his fourth combat tour of duty, Sgt. Hargis suffered the loss of both legs after a suicide bomber blew herself up as his unit was on detail. The attack, which also involved multiple improvised explosive devices, killed four friends and the unit's dog, and injured numerous others.
A severely injured Sgt. Hargis managed to salute when he was awarded his Purple Heart.
Our community, like others across the country, has had the bittersweet opportunity to honor many such heroes.
Pfc. Corey Kent and Spc. Michael Araujo come immediately to mind.
As do Pfc. Brandon Wadman, Pfc. Derrick Gwaltney, Army Spc. Manuel Lopez III and Capt. Dan Eggers, all of whom died over the last few years in what has come to be called the War on?Terror.
They are to be commended.
And never forgotten for their efforts.
For those who would like to say thank you in some small way to just one of those who served at great sacrifice, the National Coalition for Patriots, a military veterans service organization created in Cape Coral three years ago, has been raising money to provide a vehicle to Sgt. Hargis and his wife, who is expecting their first child.
The vehicle will be modified for Sgt. Hargis' special needs.
A presentation has been set for Monday at Auto Nation/Toyota Scion, 2555 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, at 1 p.m.
The public is invited.
And, as the fundraising efforts are still shy of the total cost, the community still can contribute, if we wish.
"Our homegrown organization's goal is to not turn anyone away," said NCFP board president Dan Ashby, Corey Kent's stepfather, in an interview this week. "We try to do what we can according to the veteran's needs. Everyone is different. We've helped as many as 50 servicemen and women financially with rent or Christmas presents for kids, fixing vehicles, clothes, or getting their VA benefits. NCFP is all volunteers and 100 percent of donations goes to the veterans."
A truck won't replace the legs Sgt. Hargis lost.
It won't ease the pain of rehab and recovery.
It will just make his life, and his family's, a little easier.
Donations may be made to the National Coalition for Patriots via its Web site, www.nationalcfp.org .
- Breeze Newspapers