Movie and music help house injured vet
Sgt. Tim T.J. Johannsen was driving a HMMWV during his second deployment in Iraq in June, 2007, when it hit an explosive. The pressure plate IED burst through the floorboard and amputated his right leg below the knee and his left leg above the knee.Though medics saved his life, he spent more than two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., undergoing surgeries and rehabilitation. Afterward, he returned to his wife, Jackie, in Fort Collins. However, they live in a tri-level home in which Johannsen must remove his prosthetic legs to go upstairs to shower or sleep.When he applied to FOB Summit County Co, a nonprofit Sgt. Tom Torres created in February as a local offshoot of Homes for Our Troops, Torres leapt into action. Every penny raised at Saturday night’s event will help build the Johannsens an adaptive home in Elizabeth, Colo., where one of Johannsen’s battle buddies – also a double amputee -lives.Once settled in, Johannsen would like to complete a master’s degree in prosthetics to help others.
After serving active duty from 1981 to 1997, with five combat tours, Torres has taken the military motto, “Never leave anyone behind,” to heart. He has organized 23 fundraisers and events for soldiers and their families in the past three years.”We messed up with the World War II veterans, Korea, Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Bosnia,” Torres said. “We cannot mess up here. I won’t let it happen again.”Torres takes vets suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries on raft and ski trips to help them connect with nature and essentially learn to live again- maybe even forget to take their pain pills for half a day.This weekend, he’s focusing his efforts around a family-friendly film and local bands Jukebox Hero and Pine Beetle.”It’s Summit County coming together to help out,” Torres said. “This is part of the healing process that goes on, but more needs to be done.”In fact, two more soldiers who are paralyzed from the neck down are looking for property in Summit County.”We need lots of money and lots of people … I couldn’t do it without a lot of big hearts,” Torres said. “I love my county.”Businesses are supporting the cause as well: Best Western donated the outdoor space; City Market and Cysco, the food available for purchase; Safeway, Dam Brewery and Pug Ryan’s, the paper goods; and Copper Mountain, the movie screen and projection equipment.”Whenever I knock on these guys’ door, they have a great heart,” Torres said.
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