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2 Burns was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that deployment, I was injured when a low laying power line caught me across the neck pulling me from the turret of a HUMVEE hitting me with 220v of electricity. I sustained a hairline fracture to my neck and minor burns to the side of my head as well as injury to my back. Then in November of 2003, during a rocket and mortar attack, he was peppered with shrapnel in his left leg from a rocket that landed approximately 15 meters next to him. He completed that deployment as the Walking Wounded. He returned to the states for nine months, only spending three months with his wife and three children due to training. His platoon then came down on Rapid Deployment Orders, assigned in Mosul, to re-establish Iraqi security forces in the area. After a few months, his unit was reassigned to the Third Armored Calvary Unit in Tal Afar to prepare to take back the city from Insurgents. Three months short of completing his second deployment, Burns was med-evac back to the states for surgery due to injuries sustained during his first deployment. In the first surgery, the doctor removed some of the shrapnel and attempted to repair some of the damage to the joint in his knee. The surgery was not successful. Burns was told it was either an extensive second surgery or amputation. He refused both options and was sent out on his third deployment in Ramadi, Iraq. Upon completion of his third deployment, he was sent to multiple military and civilian doctors. Amputation looked like the only alternative until a military doctor in Ft. Bliss, TX, was able to rebuild the joint though a series of surgeries, removing more shrapnel, placing plates on the tibula, and rebuilding the joint with bone and cartilage from a cadaver. It was clear that it would be a temporary fix with hopes it would hold out long enough for medical technology to catch up. It was at that time I went home to my wife, who was pregnant with our second child and told her I was going to leave my job as a mortgage broker and join the military. Without hesitation my wife agreed. - Mike Burns Hometown Living At Its Best 45

3 Burns says his biggest challenge is attempting to be as much as a normal husband and father as I can be. It is both mentally and physically challenging to do simple things with my family. I was medically retired from the Army as an E-6/SSG in September, Since then I have had three more surgeries. During this entire process, my wife had to quit work and is my caregiver. Without my wife, I would need in-home nursing care to assist me. I have also been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) caused from multiple IED explosions and air support with 500 pound bombs that were dropped danger close due to complex attacks on our fighting positions. Because of my TBI, my short term memory is affected so I forget to eat, take medications, keep medical appointments and even have issues with spelling and simple math. She also provides assistance with additional simple tasks such as dressing with lower extremities, and at times even getting me in and out of bed. Burns says his biggest challenge is attempting to be as much as a normal husband and father as I can be. It is both mentally and physically challenging to do simple things with my family. We now have four children at home ranging from age fifteen to five. I can t physically play with my children, like teach my boys to play sports or many of the simple tasks that fathers look forward to doing with their kids. Something as simple as grocery shopping I cannot do much of due to not being able to stand or walk more than 10 to 15 min. At times, even sleeping is a challenge due to pain from injuries, migraines and/ or nightmares. 46 Abilene Living Magazine

4 Mike says it s not him who is the hero, but his wife, who held it all together... and my children who still loved me when I was just a voice on the phone... And now, although they can t really understand everything that I go through with my disabilities, they still try and even they help take care of me. It s not me who deserves this dream of having a nice home in a great, safe and healthy community; it is my wife and children who deserve it! Two days after being med-evac out of Iraq, Burns learned his father lost his life and his battle with PTSD. Vietnam vets, who bravely served their country, were spat upon and disgraced. As a more humane, educated people, can we do the honorable thing and give back to a Wounded Warrior whose personal sacrifice and heroic dedication has helped preserve the freedom and security available to all Americans? This is where The Texas Sentinels Foundation comes in. Founded in 2007, by Richard and Jeanne Filip, the Foundation s mission is to provide qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were severely injured in the line of duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, with support adapted for their needs. The TSF offers support, primarily through the provision of housing and life scholarships, and helps these Wounded Warriors readjust to civilian life and prosper in their hometowns or new communities. The Texas Sentinels Foundation provides opportunities for all citizens to help create a better life for Wounded Warriors and their families, and they appreciate the support from countless volunteers who participate in numerous activities throughout the state to honor our Wounded Warriors. The Texas Sentinels Foundation provides opportunities for all citizens to help create a better life for Wounded Warriors and their families, and they appreciate the support from countless volunteers who participate in numerous activities throughout the state to honor our Wounded Warriors. Photo by: Jason McDonald Hometown Living At Its Best 47

5 If you or your business would like to contribute, contact Gayle Baird at or Laura Yarborough at We say, Never leave a fallen comrade. I just want to give back and pay it forward. - Mike Burns The community of Abilene is partnering with the TSF to help the Burns family build a new home and a new life. Abilene Association of Realtors is coordinating the efforts. Ken Musgrave donated a lot on Velta Road. Numerous vendors will donate labor and materials including paint by Sherwin Williams, heating and air conditioning by Hall AC, appliances by Frank Langley, plumbing supplies by Morrison Plumbing, and Cornerstone Builders will oversee the construction. Restaurants such as Chick-Fil-A, Fuzzy s Taco, and Chili s have donated percentages of proceeds on designated days. Acme Bricks will sell engraved landscape pavers in memory of a serviceman from any war era. Future fundraisers include a concert and golf tournaments. $20,000 is one of many financial goals associated with this projects completion. The group objective is to have the home be debt-free, fully furnished, and three months of groceries supplied, everything from toothpicks to toilet paper. The Burns family would like to express their thanks and gratitude to everyone who has helped them. Mike s hope for the future is to obtain a college degree and find a way to assist other vets and their families because in the Army, We say, Never leave a fallen comrade. I just want to give back and pay it forward. ALM

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