HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - When the men and women who serve in our armed forces come home from war, they typically don’t ask for much. They’re just proud they could serve our country. But sometimes the effects of fighting for our freedom take their toll on those brave Americans. This is the story of one national guardsman and his family who are traveling a road to recovery.
Shannon Girard served with a medical unit of the Louisiana National Guard for nine years. He medically retired in March of 2008 with a 60 percent disability incurred during his time of service. He was deployed to Iraq for 18 months and was injured in Kuwait when he was hit by a 300 pound hatch on a track vehicle. Shannon lives daily with a brain injury and suffers from PTSD. He takes pain meds just to make it through the day. But Shannon’s a fighter and says his mission now is to help his little girl. Brylie Girard was born with a rare birth defect called bladder exstrophy. It’s a condition where the bladder is turned inside out and exposed outside the body.
Sheila McFerran with Still Serving Veterans told us, “This could be anybody’s child and the fact is this baby is not going to live unless it has surgery and we feel a moral obligation to support our veterans after what they’ve done for us and also for the children and the families of our veterans.”
It’s a long way from Carencro, Louisiana to Boston... 1, 634 miles to be exact. But it’s a journey Shannon, his wife Christie and their 5 year old son Gavin had to make to save Brylie’s life.
Before they left their home in Louisiana, they were already 29 thousand dollars in debt. A friend told Shannon about still serving veterans here in Huntsville which started making calls to other agencies in Boston. McFerran and other SSV staff members were saying, “We have this family. The baby needs surgery and it’s going to cost x amount of dollars and the family needs a place to stay for three months.”
SSV found the family a place to stay near the hospital, but according to McFerran, “We don’t have anything for their food. We don’t have anything to pay for their medical bills and the bills that they have left in Louisiana.”
McFerran says the Girard’s will need thousands of dollars to cover the costs associated with Brylie’s life saving surgeries and recovery. “This is a young couple, 34 and 38 years old,” said McFerran. “They have a five year old son and a newborn and right now as you can imagine, the financial stress, the stress of the newborn and the stress of keeping their life together during these three months are critical.”
McFerran says Shannon Girard fought for us and we should fight for Shannon and his family now. “We need to do the right thing for him because what he did for us, you can’t put a price on and right now what we need to do is join our hands together and help the family as much as we can.”
Brylie had her first surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital last week and it went well but she still faces a long road. We’ll keep you up to date on how she’s doing. If you’d like to help the Girard family with their expenses while they’re away from home, you can contact Still Serving Veterans at (256) 883-7035.