If you’ve met Field Coordinator Steven Padilla, you know that he’s a hard charger with a zest for life, and an uncanny ability to make friends wherever he goes. His dedication to supporting fellow veterans is in his DNA, and often times blends into the fabric of his everyday life. He talks about it all so casually, that to the untrained ear, it would likely be missed. But I know Steven – so when he started chatting about a recent rotation that he was working toward his Respiratory Therapy degree, my ears perked up.
Mentioning a 30-year-old OIF veteran patient he met that was battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Steven said that he’d been back a few times to visit and that the veteran – Brendan, was completely on his own in San Diego, without family or friends, while his mother commuted cross country from New York to be an active participant in his recovery. At this point, I wanted to know more. Who was Brendan and what was his story?
After a deployment to Balad in 2005 doing convoy security – with many close calls – Brendan returned home only to battle PTSD, and then, Lymphoma. It turns out that Brendan and Steven had chatted quite a bit during his rotation, and that Brendan had become more than a patient to Steven – he’d become a friend. Steven was committed to seeing him beat his cancer for a second time, after already having been in remission once before. In their conversations, Brendan mentioned that he had a lot of time on his hands, and as a guy of the same age, Steven knew what might put a smile on Brendan’s face. He teamed up with the guys at Stack-Up.Org, a nonprofit that brings veterans and supporters together through a love of video-gaming, and together they worked with generous sponsors to provide Brendan with a handheld gaming system to help him pass the time.
While Brendan continues to battle his cancer, he remains optimistic and positive; knowing that if he beat it once, he can do it again. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t use a little support from some battle buddies. If you’d like to let Brendan know you’ve got his back, you can send cards and letters to:
℅ Cards for Brendan
114 W. 41st St.
New York, NY 10036