Local Wounded Soldier Looking for Help from Home
A Brownwood man is reaching out to the community for support after serving his country in Afghanistan and being sent back to the U.S. after being wounded.
Andy Putman, a graduate of Brownwood High School (Class of 2005) and Ranger College School of Nursing (2009), joined the Army in August 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2012 as a medic and member of the 82nd Airborne Division, 1-504 Parachute Infantry Regiment.
His wife and kids lived at the base in Fayetteville, North Carolina while Andy was deployed. Then, only 66 days into his deployment, the vehicle Andy was riding in, part of a large convoy, was hit by an IED during a mission. One of his buddies was killed in the explosion, but Andy survived with incapacitating injuries, suffering broken bones, internal injuries, a collapsed lung and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Andy was not initially expected to survive but somehow made a miraculous recovery. He still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is having to learn to be a civilian and father again and to remember that he is not in a war anymore.
Andy is at a poly trauma treatment center in Richmond, Virginia receiving rehab with his devoted wife Kendra constantly by his side. Although he is still having problems with his short term memory and pain issues, Andy is learning to walk again using a walker and cane, is feeling much better, and he is able to shower and go to the bathroom by himself. Andy will need a service dog after he leaves the rehab facility.
Many organizations are helping with the Putman’s needs, such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Mission 10 (mten.org), with needs such as clothing, providing a service dog and more; however, the Putmans still need one basic thing – transportation - while they are at the rehab facility and separated from their family. Mission 10 is a non-profit organization which is helping to raise funds for Putmans. Through Wednesday, all donations coming into the organization will be given to the Putman family. After that, donations will still be accepted but will need to be designated for Andy Putman or “the wounded soldier,” there will be a button on the website that will allow donations to be made easily for Andy’s benefit. Mission 10 is working to raise funds which will be applied to the short term rental of a car, or if there is enough funding, the organization will buy a used vehicle for the family at a discounted rate. If a vehicle is purchased, Putman stated that this will add some security for the family for years to come.
According to the Mission 10 website, Andy’s physical condition has just improved to the point where his doctors are encouraging him to attempt going home on the weekends, which will be tremendously therapeutic if his body can handle the trip. This would also be greatly preferred to uprooting his children from their home and familiar surroundings for such an extensive period of time while Andy undergoes rehab.
“Our goal is now to provide the transportation necessary to get Andy & Kendra to Fayetteville and back on the weekends in order to bring this loving family together once again,” says the Mission 10 website. For more information or to donate through the Mission 10 organization, please click here. Donations will benefit the Putman family and are completely tax deductible as Mission 10 is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.
The Putmans were able to see their daughters for what is only the second time since Andy’s return to the U.S. on June 23rd, thanks to Mission 10. Currently their grandmother, Kendra’s mother, is caring for them at the Putman’s home in Fayetteville.
“We are a family of six when my mother-in-law brings the girls to visit and we cannot even fit in the same car,” said Andy. “Our only car is back home with my mother-in-law, so that she can take care of the kids while Kendra stays and takes care of me.”
Andy said he and Kendra feel as if they are imprisoned within the walls of the rehabilitation center. Although it is a very nice facility, there are no means for him and Kendra to do simple things such as buy groceries or go somewhere for a break – away from the medical setting.
With the community’s help, Mission 10 can help provide transportation and peace of mind to the Putmans. According to Andy, it is very hard for the family to put aside their pride to ask for help.
“It is so hard to be humble and ask for help, this is a desperate need for us,” said Andy. “Sometimes it just comes down to the fact that you have to do what you have to do and we cannot do this on our own.”
Andy explained that he does not receive much military pay, Kendra cannot work while taking care of him and now they have added expenses while he is in the rehab center.
“I have to remember that this is nothing we caused, it is not our fault that I got blown up, that we are separated from our family or that we have two sets of bills now,” said Andy.
A local bank account has also been established at Citizens National Bank to help the Putmans with their daily financial needs. Donations are also being accepted through this account as well.
Brownwood is home to the Putmans and they have invested a lot of time volunteering for the community and now they are hoping the community will rally to help them.
“It is so hard as a soldier and as a man to beg for help,” said Andy. “Brownwood is home to us and we cannot wait to get back home.”
Putman is the 25-year-old father of three and the son of Julie Williford and Glen Putman. He is also the recipient of the Purple Heart and Combat Medic Badge, given to medics serving in combat and for valor saving a life during combat. Pictured above are Andy and Kendra Putman at the rehabilitation center.