By Esther GarciaNovember 22, 2010
SAN ANTONIO -- Christmas came early for 100 active duty and retired wounded warriors on Veterans Day. However, the gifts weren't presented by the usual jolly person in a red suit and white beard, but by angels.
During a ceremony held at their headquarters in San Antonio Nov. 11, the Soldiers' Angels, a volunteer-led nonprofit organization providing aid and support to military members and their Families, donated a new laptop computer to each veteran to thank them for their service.
"We owe everything to our veterans," said U.S. Rep.-elect Francisco Canseco (R-Texas), one of the speakers at the event. "We owe them our freedom, our peace, our prosperity. Everything we have, including the safety and guardianship of the Constitution of the United States and the values we hold dear, we owe to our veterans who gave a blank check to the United States of America, and said, 'Take my life if you have to, take my limbs if you have to.'
"So today, we honor our special Americans who went into harms' way, fought for us, and made the society we have today. God Bless our veterans, God Bless this, our United States, and it is a privilege to be in the company of great heroes," added Canseco to a standing ovation.
Funding for the laptops came from the Texas Resources for Iraq Afghanistan Deployment Fund, which is operated by the San Antonio Area Foundation, The Dallas Foundation and the Permian Basin Area Foundation, and also from the Air Warrior Courage Foundation.
"This is a great honor. It feels great that there people who support us when we are feeling down and out when we are in the hospital and feel like there is no love," said Staff Sgt. Oscar Guerra, Company A, Warrior Transition Battalion, who was injured in Iraq and had his leg amputated.
"As we heal up and see the appreciation, it gives more meaning to what we do," Guerra said. "As we drive on and move to bigger things, the love and support we get from all around us makes it worthwhile."
Sgt. Johnny Sanchez, Company A, WTB, was also injured in Iraq, but stayed with his unit when they went to Afghanistan.
"I got re-injured in Afghanistan, so I was sent home to take care of myself. It was great to come home to San Antonio and have tacos again," Sanchez said. "Today - Veterans Day - reminds me of the service my father gave and my brother gave, not so much of what I gave, but what I am going to continue to give to my country."
Soldiers' Angels was founded in 2003 by Patti Patton-Baden when her son, Brandon, who was deployed to Iraq, told his mom that some deployed Soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Within a few months, Soldiers' Angels grew from one mother writing letters to an Internet community of thousands of "angels" worldwide.
"Something like this is overwhelming," said Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Ramirez, who was wounded in Afghanistan. "I felt like I wanted to shed a tear with the history and all the people going up to speak. It's one thing to be involved in combat and see the enemy, because it is very life changing and could alter your perception.
"Days and events like this makes it little bit more worth doing it, understanding why you did it, and why you still continue to do it," Ramirez said.
"Even if there were no laptops involved, I would still go back out if I could do it again and do a tour in Afghanistan again.
"It is all great; a great day."