It’s been a while since Teena has exercised some of the muscles in her legs. 8 1/2 years, in fact. Now, with a little help from the VFW and a generous businessman, Teena is well on her way to getting back on track.
A veteran of the 1st Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm, Teena served as a communications specialist, a.k.a. a Rat Rig Operator, with the 4-229th Apache Attack Helicopter Regiment.
Then in 1999, Teena, an ICU nurse and former college softball player, was in a terrible car crash. She suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury.
The fierce blow to her head disrupted areas of her brain controlling both cognitive and physical abilities. Teena faced extensive damage to her motor skills, specifically the areas affecting the movement of her legs.
“That injury forever changed who I was,” Teena recalled. “It has taken eight years of cognitive, mental health and physical therapies to relearn and overcome the setbacks.”
When VFW Post 3452, Tualatin, Ore., heard of Teena’s condition, they knew they needed to help their fellow veteran get mobile again.
Working cooperatively with Ryan Miller, a local businessman, Post 3452 coordinated and purchased a road cruiser bike for Teena. Miller bought and assembled the bike while the VFW purchased the needed accessories.
“We wanted to expand our base and get citizens and businessmen involved,” said Dale Potts, a member of Post 3452. “It’s important for the VFW to involve the community.”
Now, Teena is cruising around the Portland, Ore. area with freedom and easy mobility she hasn’t had in years. On top of that, she is ready to embark on a new path as an alcohol and drug counselor for veterans.
“I am very excited to get this new career started and am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin,” Teena said.
“Now that I am able to prioritize exercise back into my daily routine, my new cruiser bike fits in quite nicely. The other day I actually broke out into a sweat, I think for the first time since the crash!”
For Potts and Post 3452, helping Teena was incredibly fulfilling. The Post members hope their example will encourage others to follow suit.
“Her spirit is just fantastic,” explained Potts. “You want to help her after spending even a little time with her. It’s very uplifting.”