The events of 9/11 made Jason Ehrhart so angry that he enlisted in the U.S. Army right after high school. A few months after being sent to Iraq, life for Jason and his family took a devastating turn. Jason’s Humvee was blown up by anti-tank mines — he was blown out of the top of the vehicle and landed several yards away. Both of his legs were broken, he had third-degree burns covering 60% of his body, and he slipped into a coma that lasted for three months. When he came out of the coma, one of his legs had been amputated and he couldn’t swallow or speak.
Jason’s wounds and traumatic brain injury (TBI) meant that he could do virtually nothing for himself, and his parents, Pam and Mike Estes, were about to embark on a long, hard journey as full-time caregivers to their adult son. Only a year after sending their son to war, Pam says, “we were having to consider whether we should put him in a nursing home.”
The Estes family credits Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) caregiver retreats with helping them begin their own recoveries and the WWP Independence Program with helping Jason live more self-sufficiently. Jason’s Independence Program life coach engages Jason five days a week — working on different therapies to help advance his recovery and getting him out and about in the community so that he can spend time with people his own age.
Jason continues to make progress and shows improvements after every WWP event he attends. He says, “I know I’m never going to be the same person. And I don’t want to be the same person. I’m still moving forward.”
Pam and Mike know that they will not always be around to take care of their son but are comforted by the fact that WWP will always support them. Pam says, “We will be living with the effects of war for the rest of our lives. Wounded Warrior Project’s message was that ‘we will always be there. It doesn’t matter how far from the war you are.’”