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Guest Blog from Emmy Weaver, Fiance of Warrior Open Warrior Bobby Dove
This is a guest blog from Emmy Weaver, fiancee of Warrior Open Warrior Bobby Dove. They will be married in October.
At the Warrior Open, we celebrate and thank the incredible family members and loved ones who serve as caretakers for servicemen and women returning home with an injury. Stay tuned for more stories like this as we get closer to the Warrior Open this Thursday, Septemeber 26!
Bobby and I met in 2007 while I was attending Virginia Tech. We quickly became friends and started dating in 2008, shortly before he joined the army. Bobby enlisted as a Special Forces recruit, earned his Green Beret in August 2011, and was attached to 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base, FL.
June 9th, 2012 started out just like any other day. I had just finished graduate school and was excited about securing a job and apartment in Florida, where Bobby was stationed. He was six months into a 10 month deployment in Afghanistan. I spent the morning shopping for furniture with my mom and sister. On the way home I received a phone call from Bobby’s sister. Suspecting nothing, I answered the phone; but as I heard the words, “I got a phone call,” my heart sank. Her words rained down on me: Bobby was injured… IED… arm and leg amputated… critical condition. Over the next hours we learned the full extent of his injuries: two amputations, shattered pelvis, broken arm, broken thumb, shrapnel wounds, and soft-tissue injuries. He had been flown to Germany, but his length of stay there was undetermined. Waiting for information was agonizing. We received two or three updates a day on the status of his condition. At one point we were told that the doctors were having difficulty regulating Bobby’s breathing and lung function, with no other information available. Thoughts of the worst flooded my mind and the fear of losing him left me inconsolable. After three excruciating hours of waiting, a new update came and we found out we had been given an update of another soldier. There was never a problem with Bobby’s lungs. Furious doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt about getting the wrong information. The status of what we, his family, were to do changed constantly. One minute we were to fly to Texas, the next Germany, and then Maryland. Seven days later, while still being kept under sedation, Bobby was flown stateside to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. His family and I met him as he was brought off the ambulance, and our new journey began.
Becoming a caregiver at the age of 25 was not something anyone expects; but, there is no doubt that I had the easier of the tasks that were set before us. By the grace of God, Bobby was alive. Although his body was broken, his mind and his spirit were intact, and that was the miracle that kept me going. Bobby has more spirit and determination than any person I’ve ever met. He always has. Everyone who knew him had no doubt that he would fight his way through recovery. From the first day he woke up, he always had a positive attitude. He looked toward the future and faced every obstacle head on. Bobby set the standard of how his recovery would go, and I tried like hell to keep up.
We lived at Walter Reed for six months. In the beginning, Bobby needed full assistance. The combination of the extent of his injuries and the week under sedation left him unable to move. So, in addition to coming to terms with his sudden injuries, he was also forced to be completely dependent on those around him for every need. I basically lived in the hospital with Bobby. I slept on chairs while he was in the ICU and a converting chair-bed when he moved to the wounded warrior floor. I was given a room at a near-by hotel that I used for showers and sometimes a quick nap. It was quickly made apparent that the hospital was not as top-of-the-line as we had once heard. They were constantly running out of supplies. Ice packs, pillows, bed pans, ICU gowns, IV tubing, shampoo caps: These were all unavailable at one point or another during Bobby’s stay. We were told by other patients that theft was a big problem on the warrior floor. The most reported stolen items were American quilts that were hand-sewn and given to each warrior, bags containing Under Armor items that were donated from Wounded Warrior Project, and iPods. So, as Bobby went through surgeries three times a week, we moved his personal and valuable items in and out of his room. As he regained his mobility and strength, he quickly gained more independence. It was easy to be there for Bobby to help him do things. It was much harder to then step back and watch him struggle to re-learn the tasks of everyday living. It was also a challenge for both of us to accept that we do things differently. How I do something for myself is often very different from how Bobby would do it, and that has been a balancing act of learning how to be flexible and communicate in order to accomplish the task that we need to get done. This, of course, has caused some stressful moments between us, but we learn from it, we forgive, and we move on.
Bobby was moved to outpatient in August, and we were provided with an apartment on the Walter Reed campus across the street from the hospital. At the time, Bobby had not yet been cleared by the doctors to bear any weight on his leg due to his pelvis injury. We made our way around the campus pretty well with me pushing him in a wheelchair. We went for two mile walks this way in the evenings, which are my best memories of our time at Walter Reed. Until he was able to stand, I helped him transfer back and forth from his wheelchair by picking him up (as best I could) from around the chest. On September 11, Bobby received his first prosthetic leg and began learning to walk. Four days later, he was on the golf course playing a round. He is unstoppable. One of the first things Bobby said when he was in the ICU was that he was going to set the record for recovery, and I believe he did just that. From early on I knew my time as a caregiver for Bobby was only temporary. There are many things that I continue to help him with, but that is mostly for convenience. Thankfully, his injuries were such that he has been able to learn to adapt the way he does things in order to accomplish his goals. We have yet to come across a task that Bobby cannot do. We consider ourselves very blessed. There are many service members whose recoveries are more complex and their caregivers’ roles are unending. We left Walter Reed in January and moved to Florida so that Bobby could return to active duty. He kept his same job as the senior medical sergeant on ODA 7231 and just recently returned from his second deployment.
There is no doubt that this event has changed our relationship. It has strengthened us in ways we could have never imagined. It wasn’t always easy. We’ve had our fair share of struggles and arguments, and we don’t always see eye to eye. But at the end of the day, we love each other. That’s what gets us through the challenging times. We know we have gone through more than most couples our age, and, honestly, I think we are better for it. It makes us unique. In December, Bobby asked me to marry him. We are getting married on October 19th. We know we are unbreakable. Though it all we have been constantly reminded of all the good in this world, despite the evil that caused his injuries. We are surrounded by amazing family and friends who have gone above and beyond what we could have ever asked for. Countless numbers of strangers have thanked Bobby for his service or shown us acts of kindness. These things, although simple, mean the world to us, and we would not be where we are today without the love and support of those around us.
The 2017 Warrior Open in Photos
The 2017 Warrior Open reunited past Team 43 members for a weekend of golf and camaraderie. Most importantly, they told the stories of their journeys since returning home.
Invisible Wounds: Hearing from a Father Who Lost His Son to an Invisible Injury
This week, the Bush Center will host its 6th annual W100K, a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for seriously wounded or injured post-9/11 veterans and military personnel. This event spotlights the effectiveness of sport in helping our service men and women recover from their visible and invisible wounds. Today, we hear from Major General Mark Graham, U.S. Army (Retired), who serves as Senior Director of Rutgers University's Behavioral Health Care National Call Center, about losing one son to a visible injury and another son to an invisible injury. My wife Carol and I discovered the power of connection after the tragic deaths of both of our sons. Just eight months before our oldest son Jeffrey was killed in Iraq by an IED, we lost our younger son Kevin to suicide. We knew our son, Kevin was sad, we just didn’t know he could die from being too sad. Our sons died fighting different battles. On June 21, 2003 we lost our son K
Highlights from the 2016 W100K from Crawford, Texas
President George W. Bush hosted the 6th Annual W100K, a three-day, 100 kilometer mountain bike ride with servicemen and women injured in since 9/11, September 29 - October 1.