“But daddy doesn’t talk,” said two-year-old A.J. Thompson to his mother Ivonne at the hospital visiting his father, a hospital corpsman with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment
, who was seriously wounded during his second deployment to Iraq with the battalion in 2007.
Ivonne immediately responded, “Daddy doesn’t talk yet, but he will.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Thompson is currently undergoing intensive therapy at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in New Jersey to help him regain his speech and improve his quality of life after a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated under an overpass near Fallujah, Iraq where he was standing guard.
Anthony was found unresponsive after the blast and suffered a traumatic brain injury, an incomplete spinal cord injury and a punctured right lung.
Since returning to the U.S., Anthony has made many steps toward recovery, said Ivonne.
“As we continue to go through different [rehabilitation centers], Anthony continues to progress,” Ivonne said. “His eyes are open. He is awake all day and sleeps at night. He responds to myself, his son, and men in uniform – he seems to sit at attention for them.”
Ivonne said Thompson can make facial expressions to tell her if he is in pain and can move his hands, arms and his left leg.
“All are signs he is progressing and improving,” she said. “They are tiny increments of improvement, but they mean a lot in the grand scheme of things. Who knows how far he will continue to come.”
While rehabilitation centers are helping him improve his motor functions, the non-profit organization Homes for Our Troops is helping his entire family improve their way of life.
The organization kicked off a three-day ‘Build Brigade’ Jan. 7-9, providing the family with a weather-tight structure, built specifically with Anthony in mind.
During the Build Brigade, more than 300 volunteers showed up to help erect the house and provide support for the project, said Vicky Thomas, the media relations specialist with Homes for Our Troops.
According to the organization’s Web site, http://www.homefor ourtroops.org, the organization’s mission is to provide specially adapted homes for veterans who were seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, at no cost to the veterans.
Ivonne said she contacted the organization shortly after her husband was wounded, and the voice she heard on the other end of the phone told her Homes for Our Troops had been expecting her call.
Ivonne went through the application process in March and soon after, the Thompsons were on their way towards a place to call home.
In no time at all, she just watched a house rise from an area where days prior there was only a concrete slab, she said in a phone interview.
“In four to six months we will have a house designed so that Anthony’s wheelchair — his rather wide electrical wheelchair can make it into every single room in the house,” said Ivonne, a Humble, Texas native. “The doors will all be wider, there aren’t going to be bumps on the thresholds, there will be a roll-in shower built for Anthony.
Ivonne said she is very grateful to everyone in the community for their volunteer efforts, and their concern for her husband and family.
“It truly is one of those moments when you think humanity is lost, and a group of wonderful people comes and shows you kind and good-hearted people are everywhere, just waiting for an opportunity to help in any way they can,” Ivonne said. “I’m very thankful the community has honored him in such a manner. They have given him a home – a great home where we can raise a family.”