Staff Sgt. Richard Ryan Parker didn’t expect to receive a Purple Heart. Parker was injured by an improvised explosive device in December 2010 in Afghanistan and his initial application for the award was denied. He figured that was the end of it — until two years ago, when he connected with the Wounded Warrior Regiment and began working with field support representative Brian Liedstrand.

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For two years, Liedstrand worked alongside Parker to gather witness statements, endorsements and supporting documents. “He called a lot of people on my behalf,” Parker says.

Wounded Warrior Regiment field support representatives, like Liedstrand, are aware of how challenging these applications can be, especially when a lot of time has passed. Liedstrand and Parker remained diligent, and their hard work paid off. On July 10, Parker was awarded the Purple Heart in a ceremony at his family farm in Mount Ulla, North Carolina. “My grandfather is 91 and doesn’t get around very well anymore, but I wanted him to be a part of it,” Parker says. Having the hometown ceremony made it possible for the entire family to be in attendance. …


PTSD: The Path to Recovery

Recovery is possible. Help is available.
No two stories are the same, and neither are the paths to recovery.
If one path doesn’t work, try another.

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Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, can happen to anyone — and it’s more common than you might realize. Between 11 and 20 percent of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans have experienced PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Center for PTSD. For many veterans and members of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, it’s a daily reality that requires coping skills and frequent attention. …

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