Monthly Archives: November 2010

David Feherty’s Improvised Explosive Day of Hunting

David Feherty, former PGA Tour golfer and current CBS Sports analyst hosts an annual Improvised Explosive Day of Pheasant Hunting at Southfork Ranch in Dallas, South Dakota.  Sean returned this October to catch up with friends and meet some new veterans.  Although he did not hunt this year, he plans to have a designated shooter next year making it possible for him to hunt despite his poor vision.

Sean thinks this program is awesome because he gets to be “just one of the guys” along with other veterans who bear the scars of war. . . . mulitple amputations, burns, prosthetics, wheel chairs.  Celebrities such as David Feherty, Kent Hrbek, Tim Laudner, and Tom Watson spent the weekend with the veterans hunting, sharing stories, and having fun.  Governor Rounds came to hunt this year as well.

250 American flags line the entrance to Southfork Hunting Lodge Dallas, SD

After the hunt
Kent Hrbek (MN Twins), Tom Watson (PGA), Sean, and Tim Laudner (Twins)
Tom Watson and Sean

David Feherty and Rick Kell have created several programs and specialized events designed for Wounded Warriors.  Visit their website Troops First Foundation.

Pack Your Bags

We have been invited to return to Washington, D.C. to attend a health forum at the Canadian Embassy entitled Partners in Defence:  Battlefield and Long-Term Casualty Care on December 1st.

Wow!  We were notified by both the BVA and Jeff Tracey, whose wife works for the Canadian Embassy. 

If I understand it correctly, we will participate in the day’s activities and also give some feedback from the perspective of a family dealing with war-related injury.

How cool is that?


Sean has made some wonderful friends through his wounded warriors trips.  We are excited to announce that several of these friends and supporters have decided to sponsor his cycling endeavors!!  The money donated will cover the costs of a stationary bike for training at home, including a stand and wheel hub that will measure his speed, power, etc., clothing, gear, and monthly cost of an Olympic coach.  This coach lives in California, so he and Sean will correspond via email which is where the information gathered by the stationary bike comes in handy. 

Sean is still working with the VA prosthetics to obtain his road and track tandem bikes.  The USABA will help him find local cyclists willing to ride with him and help him train for the 2012 Paralympics in London.

What incredible opportunities are opening up for Sean!!!

Wounded Warrior and Triathlon

Jeffrey Tracey and Sean Johnson would like to train for Dr. Gupta’s triathlon challenge.  Jeff was Sean’s tandem cycling pilot in Colorado this summer.  He is outgoing, positive, and upbeat–a perfect motivator for Sean!  He has proposed to Sean that they toss their names into the hat for six available slots to train alongside CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the 2011 Nautica New York City Triathlon!! 

See Jeff’s application video here:  Wounded Warrior and Triathlon
The challenge:  Tri iReport challenge

What an awesome opportunity this would be for both of them!  Sean has been hesitant, but gradually has come around to the idea.  It takes him a long time to process information and make decisions, and this one was huge.  It is definitely not something he would have considered before meeting Jeff. 

Good luck Sean and Jeff!!

Finding a New Normal

The following article was written by Melissa’s Great-Aunt Ruth Anne Moller.

As published in The Miller Press November 10, 2010.
R.A.M.ifications: Finding a new normal

How easy it is to take things for granted. Maybe it’s our health, or water from the tap, or knowing when we flick the switch, the light will come on.

I–at least–am also guilty of too often taking for granted all that we have in this “land of the free.” Voting, religious freedom, a free press, and so much more we accept as our due. Those freedoms have always been there for me; I never had to do anything to earn them, except be born in the U.S.A. And gripe all you wish about the state of the nation, we still have so much to be grateful for (including the freedom to gripe).
I sailed through my early years without much thought about how we arrived at being “free.” The “war to end all wars” didn’t end a thing. World War II was over. I barely remember anything about the Korean War.

But Vietnam caught my attention. A boy I taught when I was 22 (and he was 18) went off to war…and lost the use of his legs. My husband’s nephew served in the Marines, and though he was not wounded, he still bore scars. I got to know several Vietnam vets, and I realized many would never be quite the same again.

The husband of my great-niece was a healthy guy who was employed with the Aberdeen fire department and was a paramedic. He voluntarily went to Desert Storm, then Bosnia with the Reserves. He then voluntarily went to Iraq.

There, he sustained traumatic brain injury in an explosion, and also suffered from waste-pit fumes. He has chronic PTSD and depression. He is legally blind. He has constant stomach pain. He is forgetful. And there are several other conditions directly related to service. His wife-a first-grade teacher-has taken a year off from teaching to help Sean try to make adjustments.

They have been going around and around in circles since Sean was injured, trying to somehow get answers, get aid, get relief from pain.

Melissa has a lengthy blog on the Internet. It is tragic to read, but it is also a testimony to strength. After she viewed, “When the War Comes Home,” Melissa quoted from it: “There ought to be more songs about those soldiers whose war is never over, who made it home but never quite came back…oughta be more songs ’bout that.”

It is easier to relate to a person or a situation you know, so as I read Melissa’s blog ( it brings things closer to home, and also magnifies the fact that Sean and Melissa are part of the much bigger picture of what veterans sometimes face.
She sums up their life today: “In many cases when soldiers return home, life does not get back to normal. Instead, we must learn to live with, and adapt to, a new normal.”

Despite all the turmoil, Melissa states, “Sean LOVED being a soldier. He used to say they would have to kick him out of the Army at age 60. He would have gladly deployed 10 more times and done his duty to his country.”
So, this Veterans’ Day, people will again fly the flag, make speeches, perhaps play patriotic music. But it is also a perfect time to truly, truly think about what we have, what we enjoy, and what we take for granted. Thank a soldier; thank all the soldiers, and not just on special days. Then take a deep breath and breathe in the air that is “freedom.” Never take it for granted.

“None who have always been free can understand the terrible fascinating power of the hope of freedom to those who are not free.” ~Pearl S. Buck

Veterans Return with "Hidden" Vision Problems

Another interesting article from NPR.
Some Veterans Return With ‘Hidden’ Vision Problems

Happy Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day to all veterans and their families.  Thank you for your dedicated service and sacrifice.