Wounded Combat Veterans Thankful for Free Computers


WINCHESTER, Calif., Nov. 21, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The holidays bring about many displays of thanks and gratitude across the nation, from one American to another. But Americans are especially thankful for our freedom; freedom that would not exist without the courage and selflessness of the U.S. military.  And one organization has been providing Americans with a way to say "thank you" in a meaningful, tangible way by giving free computer systems to combat wounded veterans.

U.S. Marine James Brewster, recipient of four Purple Heart medals from injuries sustained in Vietnam, was recently surprised by a phone call from Help Hospitalized Veterans informing him that he would be receiving one such system.

"Getting that call was like winning a sweepstakes," Brewster said.  "This computer has already changed my life.  I found a couple of my buddies from 'Nam, and I even found the corpsman that saved my life and we have begun communicating."

"In one battle, four of us were badly injured," he said.  "While heading to safety we were attacked again.  I was the only one who survived," Brewster reflected.

After his medical discharge, Brewster began the long journey home.  It wasn't measured in miles, however, but by his steps along the road back from despair; Brewster also suffered from the effects of PTSD.  "The smell of fuel puts me right back in the jungle, and I re-live the ordeal all over again."  Rehabilitation from his physical injuries—being shot in the arm, hand and knee, has also been long, difficult and painful.  But he credits much of his healing process, such as improving fine motor skills, with the arts and crafts kits he was given.  The kits are also supplied for free by Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV).

Brewster discovered the craft kit program at the VA medical center in St. Albans, New York.  "You have no idea how hard it is to be unable to control your thoughts and emotions," he said.  "But when I'm working on a craft kit, I feel like I'm back in control.  The kits help in so many ways," added Brewster.

Another computer system recipient was Sergeant Fidelis Oketch.  A native of Uganda, Oketch came to America for an education.  Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, however, felt strongly compelled to help his new country.  After gaining his citizenship, Oketch enlisted in the U.S. Army.  While in Iraq, he was severely injured by an IED.

Oketch is now able to communicate with many of those from his platoon—troops he credits with saving his life, thanks to his new computer.  Currently working on getting a degree in health administration, Oketch says that having a computer at home means he doesn't have to complete assignments on a public computer anymore.  "It means more time with my family and more time to study at home," said Oketch.

And U.S. Army SPC David Miracle, a 30 year old combat veteran sustained back, head and lung injuries while serving in Iraq also received a computer system.  "This young man was so very grateful for his new computer and printer," said Mike Lynch, HHV president.

Miracle is also furthering his education and said that the computer will most certainly help him reach his goals.  "It was a very rewarding experience to meet this American hero," added Lynch, who was accompanied by HHV Board member Leonard Rogers and Craft Care Specialist Richard Burke when presenting Miracle with his new system.

In 2012, Help Hospitalized Veterans has delivered 124 systems to veterans, some with voice-activated software due to injuries preventing veterans with the use of their hands.  The organization plans to send another 120 computers to wounded and disabled veterans throughout 2013.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:

CONTACT:Frank Cimorelli
James Brewster with his new computer