Staff Photo by Shane McMillan Former Private First Class Forrest Langley holds a photo of a blast he survived in Iraq at his home near Rocky Face, Ga. on Tuesday. Mr. Langley recieved traumatic brain injuries in multiple explosions and is now left to deal with a broken body and the psychological pain of the conflict. The former gunnery specialist is one of the beneficiaries of a concert in Dalton raising money for injured veterans.
Jason Begley gets around well with a cane. But doctors say that 10 years from now the 42-year-old veteran of the war in Iraq likely will be using a wheelchair.
“The (improvised explosive device) explosion is what messed up my neck and back,” said Mr. Begley, who lives with his family in Tunnel Hill, Ga. “I’m crippled for life.”
Medical services for Mr. Begley’s injuries have totaled more than $40,000, only $10,000 of which was paid for by insurance. The rest, he said, he still owes.
Mr. Begley and Forrest Langley, both Army National Guard veterans, were selected as recipients of the proceeds of a benefit concert at the Wink Theater in Dalton on Friday.
Dalton resident Clay Payne, whose son is serving in Iraq, said he wanted to do a holiday project to thank local Iraq veterans.
INJURED IRAQ VETERANS
* 2003 to December 6, 2008
* On active duty to Sept. 30, 2008
* Georgia — 6,463
* Tennessee — 9,029
Source: U.S. Department of Defense
“They chose to serve their country,” Mr. Payne said. “They didn’t choose to get half their world blown apart and come home in a disabled state.”
Advances in technology have helped more soldiers survive the types of injuries that typically would have been fatal, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman Phil Budahn said.
“It’s not unusual to see one person with two or three separate, very severe injuries, any one of which, 20 years ago, would have killed them,” he said.
Mr. Begley and Mr. Langley do not work because of their injuries. Mr. Langley’s wife also stopped working to care for her husband.
“It makes you feel good when people want to do something like this,” Mr. Langley said. “If we hadn’t had help from the community, we would have lost everything and been homeless.”