Texas veteran receives locally created helmet
NEW MARTINSVILLE — A common phrase describing our nation’s heroes — our veterans — is “All gave some; some gave all.”
How true this is. It is evident when considering the story of a young Army veteran named Anson Curry.
Curry lives in Texas, but due to the instantaneous connection that the Internet and social media offers, Curry and his family have made a lasting connection to some special Wetzel County residents.
Robyn Yeager is not a veteran, but she is aware of the sacrifices these men and woman — such as Anson — make. Yeager’s father is an Army veteran, and she lost an uncle in the Korean War.
Yeager strives to constantly show appreciation to veterans, to support them in any way that she can. She is known for the beautiful, intricately created walking sticks she crafts and then gives to veterans free of charge.
She has used social media to spread the word of these offerings, and through social media is how she met Minie Curry, Anson’s wife.
Yeager was contacted by Minie in 2013, requesting a walking stick. Minie said her husband, Anson, had been wheelchair bound since his injury in Afghanistan. “I’d like to believe he will walk again,” Minie wrote to Yeager.
Anson served with the 82nd Airborne and was a sniper, surviving Iraq. He moved to Louisiana and was with the 10th Mountain 2-30 HHC Infantry. He was then deployed to Afghanistan. Here, he was severely injured while sleeping in a bunker he and his comrades had made from the little material they had.
A grenade was thrown through a small hole in the bunker.
Anson suffered the worst of the grenade blast.
Shrapnel penetrated the back of his head deeply, and he lost the left side of his brain.
“It’s amazing that he is all there, humor and all it is a miracle that he is alive,” Minie wrote to Yeager.
Minie said Anson’s buddies “didn’t think he was going to make it.”
“God didn’t take him from us, and we are so thankful and blessed.”
Yeager said she reached out to Minie after reading her story.
“An immediate friendship was made,” Yeager said.
Yeager said after creating Anson’s walking stick, Minie and her family invited Yeager to come to Anson’s official retirement ceremony and pinning in San Diego, Calif.
“I was not able to attend, but the pictures and videos were sent and I felt I was there with them,” Yeager said.
Thanks to social media and Minie, Yeager has been introduced to many more veterans, who have received personal walking sticks.
And since 2013, Anson, Minie, and their three children had moved to Texas, where Anson takes part in a “Beyond the Chair” post-rehab program. Beyond the Chair is located in San Antonio, Texas and offers a specialized activity-based recovery program for those living with paralysis.
The program is a non-profit and operates mostly due to fundraisers and benefits, and clients’ out-of-pocket expenses.
Unfortunately, this past year, Anson developed an infection from the plate in his skull and required surgery to remove the plate and undergo cleaning. He would then require antibiotics.
Yeager explained that until the plate can be replaced, Anson has to protect his head and be placed in a protective rehab helmet.
“Minie once again reached out to do something special for her husband, and this time it was for someone to just paint ‘Army” on his helmet to get rid of the drab and dingy white rehab look,” Yeager said.
Yeager took the plea and started on a mission to make Minie’s request happen. Her first call was to Kim and John Shatney. Notably, the Shatneys are also veterans. Kim is retired from the Army, while John retired from the Coast Guard. Yeager inquired as to whether John could airbrush the helmet that Minie envisioned, and more.
“I began relaying the information to John — name, awards, likes, and nickname.”
Next, Yeager started a donation drive to purchase a new helmet with blue padding. She contacted 10 of her closest horseback riding friends, most of whom are veterans or from military roots, such as Yeager.
“The money came in within a few days. I delivered the helmet to John.”
Kim explained, “John is also a disabled veteran. A couple of years ago he had a major ankle surgery and was laid up for six months. That’s when he discovered his talent for painting.”
Kim, being a fellow Army comrade, ensured that John painted the correct medals on Anson’s helmet. This was indeed the task, as Anson’s decorations include the following: Airborne Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and NATO International Security Assistance Forces.
“I am also a disabled veteran, so this project was very special to me,” Kim said describing Anson’s helmet.
Kim said that when she saw the helmet, “I cried.”
“I knew John was talented, but this was beyond my imagination.”
Each will downplay their role in Anson’s helmet. However, Yeager planned the helmet; John “created” the helmet, and Kim ensured the helmet was delivered, staying in contact with personnel at Beyond the Chair.
She helped coordinate the ceremony, and the day Anson’s helmet was delivered, he had an audience of those who matter most — family, Army brothers, friends, and his care providers.
Johnny Rivera, floor manager at Beyond the Chair, described the day Anson’s helmet was delivered. He said the package was delivered, via UPS, on a Friday. He noted that he had waited the last 10 minutes of Anson’s exercise session and then presented the package.
Once the helmet was revealed, Anson had a huge smile on his face. His “left hand and left foot went up,” Rivera explained, noting that this is Anson’s signal of excitement and approval.
Rivera said Kim had described the helmet to him, but in-person, the helmet is “way beyond what I expected.”
Rivera believes that the helmet has boosted Anson’s self-esteem, and has given him the “extra push” he needs when taking on his exercises.
On June 16, the day Anson received his helmet, Minie posted to Facebook: “I and my husband want to humbly thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. We feel honored by your gift and generosity and kind hearts. Thank you for your service as well. God Bless you all. Awesome helmet!”
She further stated, “We are truly grateful for Anson’s new helmet. He loves it and is very proud to wear it.”
Meanwhile, Yeager and the Shatneys downplay their own roles and credit each other for the creation of Anson’s helmet, while noting the importance of this special gift for a true hero.
“We couldn’t not do it,” Kim said. “It was a group effort.”
To contact Beyond The Chair, call (210) 256-0700. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Beyond The Chair can also be reached at 5310 Jackwood Drive, Suite #2, San Antonio, Texas 78238
To find out more about Yeager’s walking sticks/canes, check out RS Walkin Stix on Facebook. Yeager also creates military horseshoe nail crosses. Yeager does not charge veterans for sticks or canes. The veteran or family can contact her and give her information or a design they would like to have on the stick.
Yeager spends nearly 20-30 hours on a stick, and since 2013, she has created more than 100 sticks/canes for veterans. All the wood is grown on Yeager’s family’s farm and each is hand crafted, designed, and painted.
Yeager recently received word concerning a walking stick and six crosses she made for “Fishing for Freedom,” in Texas. The crosses earned $35 each, while the walking stick earned $200 for Fishing For Freedom.
Yeager said she worked with two people she went to school with, who helped organize the event. She said Lee Brown and Mary Brown Stout are originally from Folsom. Lee is retired from the Army, while Mary’s husband is retired military.
Fishing For Freedom, according to its website at fishingforfreedom.org, is a group of Central Texas businessmen and women who wish to thank our military for their service to our country. The organization’s mission “is to make sure each man and women who are serving their nation have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors of Texas.”