Combined Federal Campaign
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Meet SPC (ret.) Gonzalez, Hugo, Veteran of the U.S. Army
My name is Hugo. I served as a soldier in the U.S. Army and I was stationed in Iraq in 2004. I wanted to serve in whatever way my country needed me.
I began training for this mission immediately after arriving in Baquba, Iraq. My unit, the first Infantry Division nicknamed the “Big Red One,” has been well-known since its participation in WWI and WWII. My unit was in charge of a wide range of duties, including patrolling, VIP escorting, and guard duty.
On June 21, 2004, my patrol was ambushed. We had been sent to investigate a suspicion of IED’s, or improvised explosive devices, within an area of the Sunni Triangle. After witnessing the strange behavior of the residents, which included a sudden dismissal of women and children, we knew we would soon be under attack. My patrol was attacked by small arms fire. I was hit in the arm and back by bullets, but the adrenaline was enough to keep me from feeling the pain of the wounds. I was still conscious when the bomb detonated.
I was found and rushed to Camp War Horse in Baghdad with nearly fatal injuries, including a penetrating traumatic brain injury. I was blinded in my right eye and severely wounded in my left eye due to the impact of pieces of hot metal from the bomb. The explosion punctured my retina, and almost half of my skull had been crushed, causing my brain to swell rapidly. The doctors had moments to operate to save my life. They quickly removed pieces of my skull to ease the pressure and relieve the swelling. That split-second decision saved my life.
I was later transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where we began our long, two-year journey to recovery. Although I knew I would never be sent back to Iraq because of the injuries I had sustained, I was still fighting a battle. I was very blessed to count on my family and my wife by my side during this hard time. I believe that when the soldier goes to war, the family also goes to war, so when the soldier gets wounded the family also gets wounded. So my wife and kids were also in a recovery of their own, and fighting their own daily battles.
During my inpatient treatment I began suffering from post-traumatic epilepsy because of the traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic migraines, and severe post traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, my family and I faced the new challenge of being discharged from the military hospital environment into a civilian life.
We relocated from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the state of Florida to be closer to the Miami VA Medical Center to continue my recovery. But the transition from military life to civilian life for a wounded soldier and his family is not an easy one. Daily routines, traffic and finding a job are normal tasks for most people, but for a soldier readjusting from a war with the sort of injuries I had sustained, it was extra challenging.
We quickly found out how easy it is to fall into economic problems, particularly during the transition between the Army and the Veterans Administration as the benefits don’t start right at the moment of retirement and discharge from the armed forces. Fortunately, there are many services available to wounded veterans here in South Florida. After getting in touch with the right people, we were able to find childcare, my wife was able to find a job when she didn’t have to take care of me, and I was then able to solely focus on my recovery.
Today, I can say that all the support we received at that early stage of our transition to our new life after my traumatic injuries was crucial in all we’ve been able to achievement as a couple, as a parents, and as a wounded veteran. Thank you for all the help we have received, and please keep doing these things for our veterans and their families. Because as a soldier, even after a traumatic injury, we still are capable of being an important asset for our community and our country. Thank you.
SPC (ret.) Gonzalez, Hugo
First Annual MWR- Atlantic Coast CFC 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament on November 19, 2013.
Letter from our CFC Executive Advisor Paul Russo
Letter from Southern Command Chief of Staff
Meet Kimberlee Chiavola, VA Medical Center
Most people do not realize the extent a tragedy can have on a person and their family until it happens to them.
On June 12th, 1997 that is exactly what happened to my family. My father was electrocuted and fell head first two stories. He spent about 3 months in a coma. During those 3 months it was mentally exhausting for my family. When he came out of the coma the doctors diagnosed him with Traumatic Brain Injury. Traumatic Brain Injury is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. TBI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral affects. Outcomes can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or even death. For my father the brain injury was to his frontal lobe which affects many of the areas needed for life skills. His social skills were severely impacted, he has a loss of balance, and he has short term memory loss. 80% of his vision was lost along with field reduction, double vision, and tunnel vision. When you have tunnel vision your vision can be constricted and concentrated in the central area, as when one is inside a tunnel looking out. You can imagine how frustrating that must be for anyone who took that simple act of looking out of their eyes for granted. He spent sixteen to twenty weeks in total at various rehab facilities all over South Florida. Those rehab facilities were from all the way up to Sebring down to Miami.
Due to the loss of my father’s income and the hardship my mother was enduring during this difficult time she found much needed resources from several different agencies that provided assistance to her and my family. My dad was the sole breadwinner for a household of five. My mother now had to take on the responsibility of providing for our household. Adopt-a-family of the Palm Beaches gave us the use of a food pantry, showed my mom how to make a budget, paid an electric bill and provided a vehicle for her commute to all the rehabilitation centers. The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind provided a guide dog and training in NYC twice. Good Will was able to provide my father with work therapy that helped him redevelop his small motor skills. Last but not least the Light House of the Blind gave my dad software equipment schooling, provided rehabilitation and white cane training. All of this was due to the generosity of donors like you that support these organizations.
After 16 long years of therapy and training he finally has employment again and all due to the efforts of these establishments and the strength of our family. Without these organizations he would not be where he is today. Not only did my father but also my family have to learn how to be flexible to adjust to the new realities and create new plans to fulfill hopes and dreams. I choose to support CFC and their organizations because without them my family wouldn’t have had the support that they needed during that difficult period in our lives and you never know what life has in store for you. Give today because you never know who it changes tomorrow for.
Congratulations to the CFC Honorees recognized by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
On September 19, 2013, Christopher Dennis and Rebecca Butler were presented the awards at the South Florida Federal Executive Board meeting.
The Atlantic Coast CFC congratulates Christopher Dennis for being awarded by the OPM as the 2012 National CFC Hero. We thank him for his exemplary leadership to take the civilian campaign to another record breaking result in 2012.
Congratulations to Rebecca Butler, officer at CBP Miami Int'l Airport, 2012 Atlantic Coast CFC loaned executive, who was honored by the South Florida Federal Executive Board for her selection by the OPM for her outstanding dedication in the 2012 campaign
WAY TO GO CBP SEAPORT!
The first Envelope received for the 2013 Atlantic Coast CFC is from US Customs & Border Protection-Miami Seaport AT-CET in the amount of $9,370.00. We are very thankful for the hard-working Key Workers, Mitchell S. and Robert O.. and of course our one and only Ruben A.. This year, CBP AT-CET beat our campaign tradition as the Palm Beach Civilians has always turned in the Campaign's first envelope. WAY TO GO CBP Seaport!!
2012 CFC Campaign Report
Please click on the link below to view our report for the 2012 CFC Campaign Year
2012 CFC Campaign Report
U.S. Coast Guard 7th District Change of Command
Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony for Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner on June 26, 2013. Welcoming Rear Admiral John H. (Jake) Korn on board. Rear Admiral Baumgartner has been a great supporter for the CFC and we wish him a happy retirement.
To view more pictures, please visit our gallery: U.S. Coast Guard Change of Command
Christopher B. Dennis, Special Agent In Charge, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations – selected as recipient of the National “CFC HERO –LEADERSHIP AWARD” by the Office of Personnel Management CFC Operations.
SAC Dennis celebrated his success as CFC Civilian Campaign Executive Advisor. In 2012, SAC Dennis led the Civilian Campaigns to a record breaking result by raising over $1,276,684.00. ($33,575, 3% increase than 2011).
Some highlights of Mr. Dennis’ exemplary leadership in the 2012 CFC:
- -64 civilian offices and agencies in 8 counties surpassed their campaign goals in 2012 by an
average of 35% and participation rate at 42% in average. (Overall campaign participation rate is
25.6% in 2012 in the Atlantic Coast Region.)
- - 3% increase in total Civilian Campaign Results than prior year.
- - Average Gift for Civilian Campaign in Dade & Broward is $299.10. A 3% increase than prior
year. 17% higher than the overall campaign average and 16% higher than National Average
($258) in 2012.
- - 13% Increase in number of leadership donors ($390 and more) than prior year = 1838 civilian donors gave $390 or more in 2012 (compare to 1230 donors in 2011 Civilian Campaign.)
SAC Dennis' leadership was instrumental to the success of the 2012 campaign. His leadership and direction re-vamped and renewed interest to jump start old and new supporters to open their hearts, dig in their wallets and positively impact the lives of those we serve.