For veterans facing a new life with prosthetic limbs or orthopedic devices, simple aspects of life like clothing take on a whole new meaning. Newly bought clothing might require custom tailoring for their prosthetics, and wardrobe pieces can be easily damaged by their devices or skin medicine. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides an annual clothing allowance bill benefit to help severely injured veterans replace wardrobe pieces that have been damaged by their devices.
However, veterans are currently required to re-apply each year — a burdensome process for veterans like Brian and Mark, who already know they will be living with their injuries for the rest of their lives.
At the age of 21, Marine Corporal Mark O’Brien was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq. On day number 68, Mark was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade that ripped through the armor of his Humvee. Though he made it out alive, he lost both his right arm and his right leg because of the incident.
In 2004, Staff Sgt. Brian Neuman was serving in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by an explosively formed penetrator, a warhead designed to penetrate armor. The projectile penetrated the vehicle and ripped across Brian’s chest, severely injuring his left arm. Recounting the incident, Brian shares, “I got out of the [vehicle] with my left arm in my right hand.”
Mark’s and Brian’s stories are just a few examples among veterans nationwide. Living with a loss of limb is far from easy — especially when transitioning back from war. Small, everyday activities like writing and playing catch became new challenges for Mark and Brian. They had to change the way they imagined life.
Many returning service members like Mark and Brian also face psychological wounds in addition to their physical injuries. Whether it be post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or the emotional toll of transitioning back to civilian life, mental health challenges add to and exacerbate the frustrations of living with physical scars — as wounded veterans grieve the simpler daily life they can no longer have.
Despite these hurdles, veterans like Mark and Brian have not only found the courage to live fulfilling lives, but have also found the heart to help others do the same. Since recovering after what could have been fatal accidents, Mark has worked as a dispatcher for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, has shared motivational speeches, and is married with two kids. Brian works at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), where he helps other severely injured veterans build meaningful lives as they transition back to the civilian world.
In honor of veterans like Mark and Brian, WWP is proud to support the Brian Neuman Clothing Allowance Improvement Act / Mark O’Brien Clothing Allowance Improvement Act, which would automatically re-enroll qualifying veterans like them in the clothing reimbursement program. In a world where everyday tasks can be burdensome for wounded veterans, this legislation gives our nation the chance to pay them back for their service by making their lives easier.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.