Saturday, May 14, 2016

Iraq Veteran Gets New Van After Being Told He'd Never Walk or Talk Again

Wounded veteran receives new minivan from nonprofit, Tampa company
Bay News 9
By Cait McVey, Reporter
May 13, 2016

It took a year and a half of recovery in the hospital before he could go home. Still, Joel said he never gave up. “One mountain at a time,” Ret. Army Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera
Tampa-based MobilityWorks and national nonprofit Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH) donated a customized minivan to Iraq veteran Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera, U.S. Army (ret.) and his family.
TAMPA
A Tampa-area Army veteran and survivor of a rocket attack in Iraq in 2008 can enjoy a little more mobility and freedom, thanks to the efforts of national non-profit Help our Military Heroes.

Army Staff Sgt. Joel Tavera, U.S. Army (ret.) was critically wounded on what was to be his final mission in Iraq in 2008 Tavera and his family presented with a new minivan adapted to his needs by Help our Military Heroes (HOMH) and MobilityWorks When Joel Tavera walks into a room, you take notice. He is a man who has overcome a great deal in 28 short years.

“There’s been a lot of barriers given to me,” Tavera said. “I was told I was not going to walk, not going to talk.”

In 2008, the Army veteran was on his final mission in Iraq when a rocket hit the SUV he and his unit were riding in. The attack left Tavera blind and severely burned over more than half his body. He also lost a leg, part of his skull and several fingers.

It took a year and a half of recovery in the hospital before he could go home. Still, Joel said he never gave up.

“One mountain at a time,” Tavera said.

Now, more than 100 surgeries later, Tavera is more active than ever. He enjoys golfing, hunting and even sky diving.
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