American Legion in Texas Welcomes Home Local Wounded Warrior

Story Number: NNS110519-09Release Date: 5/19/2011 2:57:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kimberly R. Stephens, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs

CHANNELVIEW, Texas (NNS) -- American Legion Post 644 hosted a welcome home ceremony for a local Wounded Warrior, May 14 in Channelview, Texas.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony Thompson was injured April 20, 2007, in Iraq when an improvised explosive device was detonated by a suicide bomber under a highway overpass guarded by his unit. He sustained severe spinal cord and brain injuries in the attack.

Thompson was a patient at James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Fla., from July 2007 to December 2010. For a seven-month span of time during that period, he was treated at Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange, NJ. He remains in a minimally conscious state after his three years of intensive rehabilitation therapy.

The American Legion was notified by Navy Safe Harbor - the Navy and Coast Guard's Wounded Warrior support program - about Thompson's condition.

Navy Safe Harbor's Anchor Program matches a Sailor or Coast Guardsman returning to his or her local community with mentor volunteers that will provide local support and assistance.

"We love to do this! We have done several welcome home ceremonies for service members," said Dianna Lambert, president of the post auxiliary. "They need to know we care."

Lt. Will Dixon, the Navy Recruiting District Houston officer recruiter and a former hospital corpsman, started the ceremony by thanking Thompson and reading the corpsman prayer.

"All of this touches my heart because I am a former hospital corpsman," said Dixon. "Thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country."

Thompson, along with his wife and primary caregiver Ivonne, and son A.J., received memberships to the American Legion and Auxiliary, along with the organization's pledge to assist them in whatever way possible.

American Legion Post Commander Eli Cedillo, a Marine Corps Veteran who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, spoke about why welcome home ceremonies are so important.

"When I got off the plane [after a tour of duty] there were many people there to greet us," said Cedillo "A Vietnam veteran shook my hand, thanked me for my service, and said this is a welcome home he never got."

From that point on, Cedillo explained, he would do what he could to ensure that all service members received the reception and gratitude they deserved after returning from combat.

"I want to make sure every service member I can [support] feels welcomed when they come home," he said.

"We have three new members to our family," Cedillo said of the Thompsons. "It is not the end; it's the beginning because we are here for the Thompsons."

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