EDITOR’S NOTE: At the request of the subject of this story and the U.S. Army, and for the safety of both Sgt. 1st Class Brian and his family, The Western News has left out some identifying details.
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After a Libby native was recently wounded in Afghanistan, the local community came together in support, and he and his wife want local residents to know how much that has meant to them.
“I know there’s a lot of folks back home that are just curious and wondering, probably expecting something in the paper,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian . “The biggest thing for us, I want everyone to know how much it means to me, the support that they’ve been putting in.”
Brian’s voice broke with emotion several times as he tried to describe how much the community’s response has meant to him, to his wife, Amy, and even to his teammate who was also wounded.
“It is incredible, what it does for me — my morale,” Brian said.
Along one wall of his room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hangs some of the letters sent by local school children.
From pictures and hometown signs to the pictures and letters, Brian said he has shared the outpouring from Libby with his wounded teammate. Even though Brian’s teammate’s hometown isn’t Libby, seeing that support has meant a great deal to him as well.
“Just knowing that those feelings in America are still there,” Brian said.
“It’s unfortunate that it takes an event like this to remind us that we’re still at war,” he said. “But when that support comes in — holy cow. It just does something else. It brings a tear to your eye, puts a butterfly in your stomach, keeps you moving.”
Brian’s wife, Amy, said that he is through his final surgery and now they just have to wait for his body to heal before he can begin physical rehabilitation.
“We’ve just been overwhelmed with gratitude,” Amy said. “The love and support, it’s been really amazing. Definitely didn’t expect it, and it’s just been — It’s really helped lift our spirits and make us feel supported.”
Brian said he has been blessed to see how many people remember him from his childhood, and have sent letters of support.
“These people still remember me, they still care about me,” he said. “It’s been a blessing.”
His deployments are difficult for Amy already, as she has to be a single parent for months at a time, Brian said. He has been grateful for those who have supported her as well, both during his absences as he served and when the hard news came through that he had been wounded.
“There’s no way I could expect anybody else on this planet to match what my wife has done,” Brian said. “Her level of support — she might as well be Special Forces herself.”
And her support hasn’t flagged since Brian was wounded, he said. She came with their young daughter to Walter Reed, and has been by his side ever since.
Seeing the two of them when he reached Washington, D.C., had a big impact on Brian.
“That sight, it really just, it kind of snapped everything into reality,” he said. “I am home. I am alive. My family is here. It was, just — wow.”
Amy also said she was grateful for those who have stepped up and offered their support.
“A lot of the time I’m alone. I’m alone in a city where I don’t have family or friends, and then he leaves for deployment, and then I’m really alone,” she said. “So, when something like this happens and I get that news, and so many people are just willing to drop everything and come and help, especially with our daughter, and just really be there for me however I needed — I mean, it makes all the difference.”
Brian said that it’s difficult to predict how long the recovery process will take, but he wants to come see those who have remembered and supported them as soon as he is able.
“I’m looking forward to getting back home, and seeing everybody back at home, and visiting people — Ideally in the summertime, but who knows how long this path is gonna take,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful for everything the town has done for me and my family. Just being able to — just seeing and knowing that people are thinking about us, it actually — it truly helps us.”