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A Terminally Ill Veteran Had One Dying Request — And Thousands Of People Responded
A heartfelt message from a military wife and caregiver has quickly become an inspiring example of how social media can truly serve as an incredible mechanism for real good.
Lee Hernandez, 47, served in the Army for more than 18 years. He suffers from a debilitating condition that was deemed terminal after three brain surgeries failed to identify the cause. With Lee now in hospice care at home in New Braunfels, Texas, Hernandez’s wife Ernestine contacted the advocacy groups Caregivers of Wounded Warriors and the Arizona Veterans Forum with a request for phone calls and texts, along with Lee’s phone number.
It was simple but tragic request: Her husband’s dying wish is to hear from you.
The July 11 Facebook post on the Arizona Veterans Forum page immediately went viral and an outpouring of support flooded in. In a matter of days, Lee received more than 100,000 texts and numerous calls from strangers who shared their own stories, kind words, gratitude for Lee’s service, and notes of encouragement.
Eventually, the high volume of messages became overwhelming. To lighten the load, family friend Susan Frawley started the Facebook page Team Lee!!! American Hero Support Group, as a way for supporters, veterans, and service members to reach out to the couple.
Though the strokes left Lee blind, he brightens up when Ernestine reads the messages to him.
“We started the Team Lee Support page so people could leave messages for Lee, because it’s overwhelming, it’s good, but there needed to be a place for people to reach Lee, which could handle the high volume of messages,” Frawley, who is also a military caregiver for her husband, a Marine veteran, told Task & Purpose.
“The response has been overwhelming and positive and there have been people on there sharing their own stories with Lee,” she added. “Lee looks stronger, and it has cheered them up. They don’t feel so alone. They know that there’s people out there who have their backs.”
Lee, has been battling with health issues for years, but hit “rock bottom” over a year ago, Ernestine told Arizona Central, adding that her husband’s “strong will keeps him going.”
According to a Facebook post by Frawley on the Team Lee!!! American Hero Support Group, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, which launched the Hidden Heroes campaign to support military caregivers like Ernestine, is taking over media queries for the Hernandez family.
“The Hernandez’s story captures something beautiful that is happening every day within this community,” the foundation told Task & Purpose.“No matter where they live or what their background may be, these spouses, mothers, dads, siblings, and other loved ones are united by the strongest of bonds, their care for wounded warriors at home.”
In addition to the Facebook page, Frawley created a GoFundMe campaign on July 16 to raise money for Lee and Ernestine to travel and enjoy the time he has left, and the campaign has nearly reached its $3,000 goal.
“We don't like saying that Lee's time is short, but the doctors have said that there is nothing else they can do for Lee and he is home on hospice,” reads the message on the page. “Our goal is to fill this season of his life with all the joy that we can.”
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.
In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.
KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.
The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.
Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.
The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".
Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.
In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.
Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.
The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.
Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."
Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.
A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.
The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.