(Editor's Note: Ben Tomlinson of Jacksonville is a former student at Jacksonville State University.)
JACKSONVILLE, Ala.-- A Marine combat veteran, now paralyzed from the chest down after being wounded by enemy fire in Afghanistan, is recovering and rehabilitating here in a home that sits across the street from the football field where he competed and excelled as a high school athlete. That same drive and ambition helped Marine Sgt. Ben Tomlinson to be selected as a member of Marine Force Recon and be a Team Leader. It is now assisting him as he addresses the monumental challenge he faces as he trains and develops the skills necessary to live a successful and rewarding life.
Friends and neighbors are looking for other generous people and organizations who are willing to help underwrite Ben’s efforts to develop the maximum mobility and independence possible. We invite you to help Ben on the home front. Here is Ben’s story.
Ben joined the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2007. Less than two years later he was deployed overseas and earned his first Purple Heart when wounded in action on August 5, 2009 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Following recovery, he returned to the battlefield. Less than a year after returning to the States with his unit, in November 2010, Ben deployed again to Afghanistan. Ben earned his second Purple Heart in May 2011. The bullet entered the left side of his neck and exited his right shoulder blade. Ben was unconscious and not breathing when the members of his team performed tactical combat casualty care. Through their prompt efforts, Ben started breathing again and they kept his lungs from collapsing. They saved his life.
As a result of his injuries, Ben has limited hand and arm mobility, and is paralyzed from the chest line down. Ben’s efforts to make rehabilitative progress is a daily battle. There are days when he cannot go to the local rehabilitation center. Ben then goes to the spartan family garage with his brothers. They help him out of his wheelchair and onto the equipment he bought to supplement his physical therapy routine.
Ben’s recovery headquarters is currently his parents’ home. A local builder made some modifications to the home prior to Ben’s return from a Veterans Hospital in Florida earlier this year. Ben would appreciate some assistance outfitting the garage with well-built, safe exercise and therapy equipment, and floor padding.
Ben is still full of that unique Marine Spirit that is the hallmark of every Boot Camp Graduate. Borrowing an old Army phrase we are familiar with, Ben’s attitude is driven by a determination “to be all he can be!” There are a number of Federal, VA, DoD, and nongovernmental programs that are providing support to Ben and his immediate family. But Ben’s definition of achieving mobility and independence should not be limited to or defined by some bureaucratic limitations.
Ben is making steady progress. His progress requires a daily routine and a dedication that impresses all who know him. Five projects to support Ben’s continuing recovery and rehabilitation include:
1: Rickshaw Rehab Exerciser – From Columbia Medical (http://www.columbiamedical.com): Exercise equipment designed for wheelchair users to strengthen the arm and shoulder muscles needed for propulsion, transfer and pressure relief. Ideal for use in home or facilities and fits around any standard wheelchair. Supports 100 pounds of weights on each side. Cost – $1,300.
2: Garage Floor – Cover concrete surface with rubber matting (approximately 165 sq ft [15’ x 11’] or 330 sq ft [15’ x 22’]). Cost estimate based on Rubber Flooring, Inc. (www.rubberflooringinc.com):
8mm Strong Rubber Roll – $1.65 sq ft ($275 ~ $545)
8mm Pre Cut Rubber Rolls – $1.45 sq ft ($240 ~ $480)
3/8” Heavy Duty Rubber Rolls – $1.95 sq ft ($325 ~ $645)
1/4” Pre Cut Tough Rubber Rolls – $1.29 sq ft ($215 ~ $425)
1/2” Mega Rubber Rolls – $2.46 sq ft ($405 ~ $815)
3: Rugby Wheelchair – approximately $3,500 ~ $4,000.
4: Hand bicycle – rough estimate $2,100 ~ $3,500.
5: Environmental changes to the garage – estimate for heating and air conditioning $5,000 ~ $7,000.
We are unabashedly in a fund raising mind set. With your financial assistance to augment what Federal programs will eventually be approved, Ben will be able to accomplish many miraculous goals. Together, we can help Ben in his daily battles as well as to build a future due any brave American hero. Any financial support will be used wisely and it will be greatly appreciated. Contributions may be sent to the local Farmers and Merchants Bank:
The Ben Tomlinson Fund
c/o Farmers and Merchants Bank
P.O. Box 70
Jacksonville, AL 36265
Thank you for taking time to read and consider this request. You too can support this young Marine warrior and his personal fight for recovery by making a donation.
Have a great day.
Ron Cypher, Colonel, U.S. Army Retired (256-435-7623)
Michael Abrams (Home: 256 435-1910; Cell: 256-453-3840)
The effort described above has been approved by the Tomlinson Family.