Hometown: Ellenville, NY
Date of Injury: 4/13/2005
Hospital: Bethesda Naval Hospital, Richmond V.A. Hospital, Helen Hayes Rehabilitation Hospital (West Haverstraw, NY)
Unit: Marine Sniper Team, "Reaper 6," (3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines)
Date deployed to Iraq: September, 2002
Location of Injury: Ramadi
List of Injuries: Two bullet shots to head: one in skull, one entered through jaw resulting in Traumatic Brain Injury.
A Soldier's Mother's Story
Eddie has been home since August 11th this past year. And it's good to be home. My son and I have spent many months together, sixteen to be exact. We're been from one hospital to the other, and at this point, Eddie's making good recovery, where he was not expected to live. He's doing above and beyond what the doctors expected. And we have just been keeping him in prayers and day by day. We take everything and just fly with it. He's an amazing young Marine. He's got that will, that discipline to do better. And each day is a struggle for all of us, including my husband, and I have a daughter as well. And it is tough on us, but you know, we look at him and we see God's mercy. And we know God's brought him this far for a reason.
Things have been a struggle for us. There's been a lot of issues as far as the veteran's administration bringing Eddie home. When a parent is going through a tragic time, we need things made easy for the transitions from one point to another. At times we look at the issues and we say, where do we go next? When you don't understand the system as a parent, you can't even think straight when you're going through something like that, so it helps to be well-informed of how that'll work. And unfortunately there are other families who are going through the same things we are, so it needs attention.
But the most important thing these young soldiers and marines need is their family core to be right there, to make sure that they get the care that they need along the way. Because if they don't have that family bond things just seem to go out of control. So we've had that. My family has been very strong, very solid in our faith, and knowing that our son had sacrificed his life for his country, and for all people. So how much more can we do for him? And we have stayed focused, and that's what we're going to do. Our hope is that we'll get Eddie to as close to having a normal life as possible.
You know, when I look at my son, I see the marine he was and is. I don't use that in the past tense because he is very tough and he loves the corps. His goal is to get back into the uniform. He wants to do what he loved to do all his life, and he makes it easy because you look at him and you see him smiling, and you see the discipline, the will to make it is unbelievable.
He's what keeps us going. I don't even know how to explain it, but it's a pleasure to take care of my son. We love him to pieces, and you know, naturally as a mom I get things like, Well, your son wants to go back into the corps. How do you feel about that? But, you know what, it's what he loves. It's his passion, and whatever he wants to do in his life at this point is OK because, I can't be more proud of my son. He's accomplished much in the corps and out, and I know he's going to make it. He's going to be the strongest voice out there.
He was injured April 13th of 2005. And he's come a long way. If in the next year if he's recovered as much as he has in the past two years, he is going to be amazing. At this point, he's not walking, but his thoughts, his memories, just his sense of humor, that's all there. And that in itself! I get choked up because I was told that he would never even remember that I was his mom and he wouldn't remember anything, and here he is. He remembers things when he was a child, and what he ate for breakfast this morning. So you know, his memory is intact.
I think that would have killed me, if my son couldn't remember who I was. I'm so blessed to have that, knowing that he wakes up in the morning and he gives me a great big smile and he says, "Hey, mom." It's all worth it, all the stresses, all the issues, all the struggles--they don't mean anything when I see him doing that. And we're very proud of him.
I reflect back to the marine who would come home on leave and run with rocks on his back. I'll never forget that conversation when he'd leave early in the morning with these rocks in a backpack, and I said to him, Where are you going with all those rocks? And the irony of it is that he at that time had said, "Mom, you know, we have to be prepared in case we have to carry out one of our boys," and in the end he ended up getting carried out.
And I'm just so thankful that he was in the shape that he was in, because that's really what kept him alive. His physical shape, just his strong will to live, and he had surpassed that. And when we speak to the doctors they're amazed at his recovery. And it's such a beautiful story. And it is a miracle because when you look at him you say, Wow, you weren't supposed to live. How are you living after taking two bullets to the head? How are you doing what you're doing? And although he's not walking at present, I know it's gonna come back because he's not paralyzed. It's just the brain has to heal, and upon healing, making those connections, he'll accomplish that. I know he'll do it, and it's gonna be a very joyful day when he does that.
Learn more about Eddie or make a donation at the Help Eddie Ryan website.