“Our Christmas comes from our heart”

“Our Christmas comes from our heart”

Organization makes holiday a little brighter for Cape family

Published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze Dec. 18, 2014 issue

A Cape Coral family received a little holiday cheer Wednesday night from the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund to help them through some financial hardships.

“With all of our warriors that are members, board members, volunteers and everybody that donates and makes Wounded Warrior Anglers possible, I want them to know that they are part of helping somebody come through the month of December financially,” Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said. “I want them to know they are a part of that. All of us coming together over the last three years have made this possible. Everybody coming together and doing a little here and a little bit there has all added up.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

Melissa and Eddie Breese were the first to benefit from the newly established fund on Wednesday, Oct. 22, because of hardship they were experiencing. After the donation was made, a community member reached out to Wounded Warrior Anglers and donated gas gift cards and food gift cards to further assist the family with their needs.

Since that donation, Eddie’s condition has become worse. Now with only one income, a part-time income, trying to make ends meet to pay the bills and put food on the table, has become extremely difficult.

To help alleviate some of that financial burden the family is experiencing, the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund donated $1,200 to the Breese family again on Wednesday.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Eddie Breese, Gracie, the Breese’s granddaughter, and Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Eddie Breese, Gracie, the Breese’s granddaughter, and Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders.

“It shocked me,” Melissa said of the donation amount. “We have good people around us like Judy and all the Anglers.”

The donation will help the Breese family pay for their December monthly bills, as well as put food on the table.

“Without a question, there is an absolute blessing to be in a situation to help people like that,” Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy said. “It touches you so deeply. You can’t put it into words.”

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25 feet through a skylight to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

After Lee Memorial Health System released him after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. He then was taken to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupational therapist.

Eddie returned home on Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

Melissa said since October he has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and began having focal seizures because of the head trauma.

“Some days he may have one or two,” she said Wednesday night. “The day before yesterday he had six.”

Melissa said when he has a seizure it is as if Eddie is staring right through her with no response.

“He looks dead,” she said.

Limited funds have made it hard for Melissa to drive Eddie to Tampa to see the doctor.

With working part-time and being a full-time caregiver, Melissa said they had to send their 1-year-old son, Keygan, to West Virginia to stay with family.

Although the family is struggling, Melissa remains positive.

“At least I have him at the end of the day and God saved him,” she said. “We have him and that’s what is important.”

Melissa said Eddie has always been her best friend.

“It’s always been Eddie and I,” she said, adding that they used to play co-ed softball and volleyball together. “That is what saved his life. If his body was not in the shape he was in, he would have never survived that. He is fighting every day.”

Souders said being able to help the Breese family is what Christmas is all about.

“That is a big part of our Christmas because our Christmas comes from our heart,” she said.

Community members, who would like to continue the spirit of Christmas and help the Breese family, can contact Souders at (423) 620-9104. Any gift donated to the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund is tax deductible.

Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Published in the Cape Coral Daily Breze Oct. 31, 2014 issue

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund changed the lives of a Cape Coral couple and their 1-year old son, Keygan, Wednesday, Oct. 22, when the organization donated $1,200 to Melissa and Eddie Breese.

“I didn’t even see the amount on the check until after they left,” Melissa said the following day. “Eddie looked at it and I seen tears in his eyes as they were walking out the door. He handed me the check . . . what can I say . . . it was amazing.”

Although the family recently lost their home, among other things, Melissa said people like the Wounded Warrior Anglers really came through for them, helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers just paid our first month’s rent,” Melissa said, adding that the donation also helped with putting down a deposit for their electric.

Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Judy Souders, Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders and Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Members Kevin Purdy and Keith Campbell presented the family with the check donation.

“This avenue for Wounded Warrior Anglers can be powerful for our community and the outreach we can do,” Souders said.

Melissa said they are beyond thankful.

“She is an angel,” she said of Souders.

“I thank God for all the help and all the good hearted people that have really come through for us,” Melissa said. “I don’t even know how to begin to tell you . . . there are so many wonderful people.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

“I think it is a fabulous thing that Wounded Warrior Anglers is doing,” Purdy said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”

The Breese family was the first to benefit from the newly established fund because of a recent hardship they are experiencing.

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

“We have always been the ones to help others,” Melissa said. Often times, she said her husband would repair roofs for free for other veterans.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25-feet through a skylight to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

“There is no rational explanation why he is alive,” Melissa said.

The only explanation is this man is a true Marine having nothing but muscle before he fell.

“That was probably what saved his life,” she said. “That he was in good shape at the time of the accident.”

Although the past few months have been extremely trying, Melissa said she is thankful.

“We have such a long road ahead of us,” she said. “At the end of the day I am so blessed because I have my husband and Keygan still has a dad.”

After Lee Memorial Health System let him go because of insurance purposes after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. Once the ER doctor looked at Eddie, he immediately called an ambulance and rushed him to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupation therapist.

Eddie returned home Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

“They absolutely love him up there,” Melissa said. “They were so good to him. I knew he was in the absolute best care. They treated him like gold. He had such good doctors. They were just awesome.”

Because his case is so complex, Eddie has to travel to Bay Pines to continue the therapy two days a week, which completely wears him out. The trip wears him out because since the accident, Eddie suffers from extreme vertigo, causing his head to spin constantly. He has also experienced a lot of weakness in his right arm.

“Head trauma is the worst,” Melissa said. “Normal every day thinking is a multi-choir for him. He has severe memory loss.”

Purdy became a member of Wounded Warrior Anglers when the organization first began because it is an organization that he really believes in without question.

“I met them at Miceli’s two years ago,” he said of the founders Judy and Dave Souders. “They were selling tickets for the original raffle boat. I was very impressed with Dave and Judy with their vision and commitment.”

Purdy served in the U.S. Calvary from 1973 to 1976 before his knee was destroyed during a training exercise in Germany in 1976.

Campbell, a founder of another nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida, spent his time focusing on fund-raising, paying tribute to veterans and helping them in their time of need. After the founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers asked him if he would like to be a committee member for the Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund, he was on board.

Campbell said he was excited after meeting the Souders because they gave him another avenue in which he could help veterans. That avenue being PTSD.

“It always feels good to help out veterans,” Campbell said. “I enjoy doing it. I don’t do it for recognition. I come from a long line of veterans in my family. It has always been in the blood.”

New chapters take off for WWA

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. was founded in battle of matlacha2012 by Dave and his wife Judy Souders in an effort to help all American military veterans cope with their stress management and PTSD therapy.

Dave served in the Marines from 1985-1992, before going into the reserves from 1992-1995. He then served in the Air National Guard in 2006 and medically retired on May 31, 2012. In 2008, he was injured while in the service.

Judy, his wife and caregiver, experienced first hand what our wounded warriors have and still are going through.

The nonprofit organization is a nationally chartered public charity.

Its mission is to “help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service.” The organization also “actively supports the wounded warrior’s caregivers and their immediate family.”

The nonprofit organization recently added two new chapters to the cause, which in turn is helping more of our wounded warriors.

First Chapter: The “Matlacha Redfish Regiment”

 Chapter 001, The “Matlacha Redfish Regiment,” was nationally chartered and formed on Feb. 10, 2014. David is the commandant and James Conant is the executive officer of the chapter.

“Being a wounded warrior myself, it’s great to be with other veterans,” Jim said about the camaraderie they all share. “It’s a great thing to help out each other and be around people that you have a lot in common with.”

Matlacha Redfish Regiment Wounded Warrior Angler Chapter Executive Officer Jim Conant.

Matlacha Redfish Regiment Wounded Warrior Angler Chapter Executive Officer Jim Conant.

Jim was in the U.S. Army for 22 years before retiring in June 2010. He said all the men in his family are veterans, which is one of the reasons he joined the service.His involvement in Wounded Warrior Anglers began 13 months ago after meeting Dave at a booth he had set up at the Taste of Pine Island.

The chapter got going this month when it held its first bimonthly meeting on March 10. The meetings are held at the Olde Fish House Marina on Matlacha because of the relaxed atmosphere.

Jim said they have about 65 members so far in the Matlacha chapter.

Disabled veterans can join the chapter for free by logging onto http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.com. He said they are waving the fee for veterans for a year to get more people involved.

In addition to the bi-monthly meeting, Jim said the chapter is also holding an internal fishing tournament.

“It’s a great team building event,” he said, adding that the tournament draws the members closer.

The first internal fishing tournament will be held on Saturday, April 5 for the members. Jim said they currently have eight boats participating. After the kind of fish was drawn for the tournament, a few more captains came onboard because the fish can be found in deeper waters.

He said every fishing tournament members will be paired up with different teams, so everyone has a chance to meet new people.

The first place winner of the tournament will fly the Wounded Warrior Angler flag on their boat every time they are out on the water.

With Jim recently earning his captain’s license, as well as being retired, he said he takes one or two veterans out at a time two to four times a week.

Second Chapter: “Port Charlotte/North Port Area”

The second chapter is currently underway for the Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. organization due to it working towards nationally chartering Chapter 002.

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America President David Souders and Keith Neal.

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. Founder David Souders and Port Charlotte/North Port area chapter commandant Keith Neal.

“It’s a great cause to be involved with,” Keith Neal said, who is the commandant of the second chapter. “I couldn’t think of anything better to do.”

The second chapter, “Port Charlotte/North Port Area,” will cover Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Englewood, Bradenton, North Port, Sarasota and Venice. Once the chapter receives more members and sponsorships it will go full blast.

There are currently 16 Wounded Warrior Angler members living in the Charlotte County area. Keith said veterans who live in the area can join the Wounded Warrior Angler chapter by visiting, http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.org.

Once an individual logs onto the website and enters what city they live in, he said, they will be assigned to the chapter out of his area.“We want to keep continuing and expanding it further,” Keith said of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“We don’t want to change anything. We are hoping to expand it even more to help more individuals and gain more awareness.”

His hope with this chapter is to grow more awareness about the organization, hold more functions and help wounded warrior’s cope with their issues. One of those coping mechanisms, of course is taking wounded warriors out on the water.

Right now, Keith, as well as some other captains are volunteering their time and boats to take the warriors out fishing.

Keith said he first started volunteering with Wounded Warrior Anglers a year and a half ago after he heard about the organization through a friend.

Keith will retired from the United Sates Navy at the end of August after 22 1/2 years of service. He said he knew he was going to be a Navy man in high school because both his mother and grandfather were in the Navy.

“It’s been an amazing career and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

Although Keith is not on the water as much as he wants to be, he tries to go fishing a couple times a month in the winter and more in the summer.