This fine fellow, Army National Guard Sergeant Dennis Cabanting, was not a young pup when he was injured in Iraq -- which meant his recovery started when he was a bit older, a tad more set in his military ways, and more susceptible to complications by virtue of age. He also quite literally couldn't imagine his life without the military.
See if you don't also find this wounded warrior's story remarkable. Particularly at this shameful juncture when Congress can't even pull VA funding and reform out of their Out of Order sausage-making machine. Gaah. This is a vet you won't soon forget.
There is a terrific moment when Dennis is asked, "What does independence mean moving forward, for you ... because one of the first things you said to me was 'I don't want to live with my Mom!' [laughter]" and his 'old' personality clearly shines through.
I've mentioned it before, traumatic brain injury is something the husband and I have worked with for nearly a dozen years here in our small Vermont town, and it is one complex human condition to be in. But if you like a job where you can leave your own life complaints at the coat check, I highly recommend, and in this rather self-absorbed century that is a startlingly terrific benefit.
Rather than drills and being in command, Sarge is now spending his days fighting the battle-related Multiple Sclerosis that he came back from Iraq with the seeds of, as well as severe PTSD and the TBI that has the potential to take a returned hero from wounded soldier to tragic figure.
MSNBC weekender Patrick Murphy was wise enough to include this Hawaii native in his four part series on Taking the Hill heroes, indeed it was the final installment.
"I don't want a Mamas boy ... and he doesn't want to BE a Mama's Boy!" laughingly sputtered Cabanting's own Mama. He's a bit old at newly 40, with a son nearly 17 of his own living with his ex-wife in his home state of Hawaii.
"It's a whole new rebirth," Mama said of her courageous son's turning 40, leis everywhere and candles a' blazin'. Dennis' tremors and peculiar gait were endearingly exaggerated as he made his way up to blow them out.
My legs may not work all that well ... but they work!" he said with pride toward the end of the filmed thank you he wanted to do as an appreciative, powerful message and gesture of gratitude to the many that helped him on his road to recovery with TBI. That long list included The Wounded Warrior Project. Under the Radar Military online, who had this to say of Dennis on their website, also offered video, further below.
It is unaccountably important to feel one of many, to love and to be loved and to know that you have something, something unique, to contribute. The possibilities are endless when that kind of reconnection to humanity finally clicks in.
Powerfully wonderful to see Sgt. Cabanting reach forty and have a long and uplifting road ahead, with the kind of life he has reestablished for himself.
The 'Old Dennis' would absolutely be proud.