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PA's Wounded Warriors - TV Smart Talk

Written by Nell McCormack Abom | Apr 17, 2013 10:37 AM

Life changes in an instant.  For Sgt. Rob Easley of Middlesex Township, Cumberland County, it was the moment on October 15, 2012 when he stepped on an IED while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. He lost both legs above the knee and parts of three fingers on his right hand.

Rob, Megan and dog.jpg


Rob is alive, thanks to the grace of God and the heroics of battlefield medics. Now, he is thriving with the love of his wife, Megan, the support of his family and friends, and care through the extensive recovery and rehabilitation process at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  We’ll explore the road to recovery for Rob and Pennsylvania's wounded warriors on Smart Talk, Thursday night at 8, on witf-TV.  Please join the conversation at 1-800-729-7532, post a comment here or on Facebook, send an email to, or Tweet. 

More than 50,000 troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have been wounded, including thousands who have suffered injuries that they would not have survived a generation ago. Tens of thousands more undergo long-term emotional damage from their war service. A recent study by a public policy analyst at Harvard University projects that these two wars will be the most expensive in U.S. history, ultimately costing $4-$6 trillion. The largest future expense will be for disability benefits and medical care for Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans.

The study finds that of the 1.56 million troops that have been discharged, more than half have received treatment at Veterans Affairs' facilities and have filed claims for lifetime disability payments.  Dr. Ken Graf, chief of General Surgery at the Lebanon VA Medical Center, has been to Iraq and Afghanistan and will discuss how breakthroughs in battlefield treatment and technology are saving lives and transforming trauma care.  He'll also share how difficult the journey to recovery can be for those veterans who sustain serious and catastrophic injuries.

Kathryn Reesor, is program manager for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) patients at the Lebanon VA Medical Center.  She also is assistant chief for social work and community care.  Reesor helps wounded vets navigate the bureaucratic and often byzantine path from active-duty treatment to VA care to community support while ensuring that their physical and mental health needs are met. Service members are deemed to have suffered a catastrophic injury if it prohibits them from performing "activities of daily living," such as dressing and personal grooming. Only a small percentage of veterans meet those criteria.  The vast majority of wounded warriors return to their families and communities, but they need a host of support services to thrive.     

Helen Sajer knows well the sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces. She is the widow of Maj. Gen. Gerald Sajer, who commanded the Pennsylvania National Guard under the late Governor Bob Casey Sr. As adjutant general, Sajer had command of some 24,000 soldiers and airmen of the Pennsylvania Army and Air National Guard and had to prepare them for wartime operations, and manmade and natural disasters. In 2006, Gerry and Helen founded the non-profit group, Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc., that raises money and coordinates supplies to bring comfort and help to wounded troops living in Pennsylvania. Once a month, Helen travels to Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland bearing gifts and information for hospital-bound soldiers. Her motto is simple: "No warrior without help."

Learn how you can help our wounded troops and their families.  Be sure to watch Thursday night at 8 and join the conversation!

(If you are an OIF/OEF/OND veteran or family member, call the Lebanon VA for more information at 717-272-6621, ext. 4565. And, if you are having difficulty talking to a veteran about getting help, call the Coaching into Care Program at 1-888-823-7458.  If you would like to make a contribution to Sgt. Rob Easley's recovery fund, please mail it to Sovereign Bank, ATTN: Rob Easley Jr. Fund, 1720 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg, PA 17202.)


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