Brandon Long was a young man on his first deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 when he lost his legs to an IED blast. The accident happened just 2 days before the birth of his daughter Claire. Now, this deserving hero has a BraunAbility Chrysler Town and Chrysler thanks to Help Our Military Heroes and Ride-Away in Tampa, Florida.
Brandon was on foot patrol with his unit when he stepped on an IED. His squad worked desperately to save this young hero’s life.
“I remember flying through the air and I landed on my right side,” Brandon said of the explosion. “It was really hard to breathe, I couldn’t see anything but a cloud of dust. I remember speaking to the man upstairs and he was telling me my daughter was going to be on the way and I needed to look after her and my wife. He said because of your wife and daughter I am giving you a second chance.”
Brandon lost 98% of his blood volume and had to be resuscitated multiple times. He was airlifted to Germany following the accident.
“I was 9 months pregnant at the time,” Brandon’s wife Nicole said. “My cell phone rang and they said Brandon had stepped on an IED. All they knew was that he lost his legs and he was in critical condition. I didn’t know what to expect and I was terrified. I didn’t know what his emotions would be. But seeing him meet his daughter for the first time was amazing and overwhelming all at the same time.”
After spending time in Germany, Brandon recovered in Maryland for 2 years. Now, his family has settled in St. Augustine, Florida. It was a difficult journey but the family has adapted to the lifestyle changes. Homes For our Troops built Brandon, Nicole and 5-year-old Claire an accessible home. Next, Brandon would need an accessible vehicle.
“Tammy Phipps, a VA representative from Walter Reed in Maryland, referred Brandon to our store,” Tampa Ride-Away General Manager Brian Stuckey said. “Tammy also put Brandon in touch with Ted and Laurie Hollander, founders of Help Our Military Heroes [HOMH]. Brandon decided to work with HOMH and Ride-Away based on our reputation.”
Ride-Away helped Brandon each step of the way and made sure his vehicle was safe and comfortable.
“We installed hand controls, a spinner knob and a transfer seat base,” Brian said. “The vehicle is a BraunAbility Town and Country with a power infloor ramp.”
Our Tampa team was proud to assist this young hero as he regains his independence.
“Brandon is a great guy,” Brian said. “He is 5 years older than my son so I felt an instant connection. It is going to change his life and his little girl will be able to sit in the back and watch DVDs. The family is very happy with their new van. Brandon made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and I am thrilled that we could help him in any way possible.”
Laurie from Help Our Military Heroes agreed with Brian.
“Live a life worthy of their sacrifice,” Laurie said. “That’s my motto. It is part of my prayer every day.”
Brandon is also pleased to be back on the road.
“I don’t know where our family would be without help from people like them,” Brandon said. “The van is amazing and I still can’t believe it’s mine. To be able to hold the keys in my hand-it’s just amazing.”