On behalf of the entire Argrave family, please allow me to extend our heartfelt thanks to those who made it possible for my son Jeffrey Argraves to come home for Christmas. It gave us the opportunity for our immediate family to be together at one time - which has happened so seldom since Jeff joined the service -- and give thanks for his survival and his incredible rehabilitation.
After a year long tour in Iraq, Jeff was deployed to Afghanistan in early May. The 101st Airborne, 1-502nd, B Company, was hit very hard in the first months of deployment being thrown directly into the firefights. They have many wounded warriors and many killed in action in B Company.
Jeffrey's injury was the first major injury in the company. In fact, his medic almost lost his arm the week after Jeff's injury, and our families have become close spending time in the hospital and on Facebook together.
Jeff was shot through the neck by RPG shrapnel on May 30th and we were notified just after midnight. (This is U.S. Central time.) At that time he was completely paralyzed from the shoulders down with a broken C5 vertebra. He underwent surgery, including a complete abdominal exploratory surgery, at Kandahar Field Hospital. He finally made it stateside to Walter Reed Army Medical Center on June 4th and my husband and I finally got to him on June 5th. Jeff was in the ICU for about a week. He had lost a lot of blood and a lot of weight already. He coded twice - once in Germany and once at WRAMC. He had two broncoscopies. He was completely intubated and extubated twice. But throughout all of this, we immediately could tell he was still "our Jeff" with full brain functioning.
The shrapnel went through the right rear of his neck, bounced off the C5, and exited in two locations below the left ear, including part of his ear lobe. However, it did not sever the jugular, the brain stem, or the spinal cord. With spinal shock and compression he was diagnosed an incomplete quadriplegic, or tetraplegic. Although we hoped and prayed, we were told the odds were high he would never walk again. When he moved his left toe the entire ICU staff screamed and cheered. We were inspired by those wounded warriors who came to visit often. In Kandahar, Germany, and DC, every medical professional said "Get him to Tampa." And they were all right.
Keeping our family unit together while apart was of utmost importance to us. Your contribution to allow us to have the merriest of Christmases is invaluable. We are truly blessed. Thank you for your compassion and your generosity.
Melissa and Bobby Argraves