By BETH ALTENA They came to Rockford for the second time Fridy, August 14 and Saturday, August 15 to scrimmage as helpers to our Miracle League players, meet and interact with the public and play ball against celebrities and local police and fire fighters. What they were also doing is showing their support and comradarie to other veterans who, like them, fought for our country in Iraq, Iran and Afghanastan. All physically injured in battle, resulting in amputations and other disfigurements, they play ball to prove that overcoming those injuries and the emotional toll war puts on those engaged in it, can be overcome. Rockford’s Bob Becker, himself a retired military man, put it on himself to give this team of players, all members of the national non-profit VETSports, a warm welcome to our town. The players, their families and locals who faced them at the Miracle Field on Ten Mile for a scorching Saturday of baseball, enjoyed the view of the river at Garden Club Park. A picnic of pizza, hot dogs, cake and ice cream was donated by local restaurants and stores. This is the third year of baseball by the team, who travel across the country to show support for other veterans. It is their way to fight back against the difficulties facing many veterans of recent wars. Wounded soldiers not only struggle with the physical recovery of injuries, but shocking statistics show that many face difficulties of another nature. Nationwide twenty-two veterans take their own lives every single day. Brian Belcher interviewed with the Squire prior to the game and told a very personal story of his own struggles. He was in Afghanistan on August 21, 2006 when his Humvee was struck by an anti-tank missile. It blew the vehicle up and Belcher’s body was in flames. As he struggled to put out the fire, he was shot twice. Becker lost part of one of his hands. Back in the United States Belcher had an intense period of rehabilitation. He also suffered severe Post Traumatic Stress, an affliction which still causes him to wake in the night in panic and disorientation. He heard about VETSports from another veteran with a similar story. The idea is to show veterans that there is […]
By BETH ALTENA On August 21, 2006 Brian Belcher was in Afghanistan when his Humvee was ambushed and hit with a rocket. His legs and left arm were on fire, and he jumped out of his vehicle to try to put out the flames. He couldn’t pat the flames out and dropped to roll to try and stop the burning. When he stood again he was shot twice in the leg above his knee. His left index finger had been blown off in the bombing. Becker said the anniversary of a serious injury is known among veterans as their “live day.” “It’s one of those days you never forget,” he said. Post injury, Becker faced second-degree burns over his body, the loss of his finger, recuperation from the shooting. “I got blown up and shot within about two minutes,” he said. Those two minutes have lead to a a life where he has struggled to rebuild himself, struggled against Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, night panics and daily reminders of the importance of helping other veterans achieve more and overcome their own struggles. “We were lucky that day, we didn’t lose anyone, just body parts, a finger and a foot.” Becker does, however, know a soldier who did not return from the war. However, he knew three who died from suicide since returning home. “The numbers themselves are alarming. Twenty-two veterans die by suicide every day,” he shared. Those statistics are part of why Becker is one of a national softball team that travels the country to interact with communities like Rockford and let veterans know there are resources available to them. Becker will be here with his teammates at VETSports for a triple header softball at the West Michigan Miracle Field on Ten Mile this Saturday, August 15 for three very special games. The cost is $5 with the money going to the Children’s Miracle Network but all veterans get in free. At 11 a.m. the VETSports team—all injured veterans who lost body part in Iraq and Afghanistan— will scrimmage with children from the Miracle League. At noon will be a celebrity game playing against such notables as Mitch Lyons, Mike Knuble, Jack Dole, Christian Frank, Jim Schipper, Curtis, Pet Wallner, Senator Dave Hildenbrand and […]
Veterans, active duty military honored with free food On Veterans Day, November 11, all of the nearly 2,000 Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants will honor U.S. veterans and active duty military with a free meal. All guests with proof of current or former U.S. military service will enjoy a free entrée from a selection of six signature favorites. This special offer will be available lunchtime through the dinner hours for dine-in guests at all Applebee’s restaurants, nationwide. For complete details, visit www.applebees.com/vetsday.
by JUDY REED When the old Algoma Baptist Church was torn down in 2004, some may have thought it would be forever forgotten. But the township, in conjunction with the Algoma Township Historical Society, has made sure that won’t happen. On Memorial Day, the township will dedicate a new Memorial Park on the site of the old church on Grange Ave., south of 13 Mile. The park, just under a half-acre, will commemorate veterans with a special monument, and the old church with the bell from the original building. “We didn’t want to lose the history of the church,” noted Julie Sjogren, president of the Algoma Historical Society. The Swedish Baptist church was organized in 1903 and first met in a house in Sparta. In 1910, it moved to Algoma Township on Grange, and held services in the church building owned by the United Brethren church. The name was later changed to Algoma Baptist. In 1968, they purchased 20 acres across the street and built the existing building. In 1999, the old church building and property was donated to Algoma Township with hopes it could be restored. “We hoped to get a historical designation through the state but couldn’t because it had been added on to so many times,” explained Devin Bigney, with Algoma Township. She said it would have cost $100,000 to bring it back to its original state, and the township didn’t have the funds. So in 2004, with the building unsafe to inhabit, they demolished it. But the current church saved the bell and gave it to the township. “We came up with the idea to memorialize both the veterans and the church at the same time,’ said Julie. The street side of the seven-foot monument will memorialize the church with the bell, and veteran brick courtyard side of the monument will memorialize veterans, living or deceased. They have been selling engraved bricks to help raise money ‘for the project since 2003. Theyve sold about 110 of them at $50 a piece, and there is room for more. The veterans do not have to be from this area. The monument itself costs about $23,000. As of this writing, they are about $8,000 short of meeting their goal. They will take monetary donations […]