Jason Ehrhart’s story is all too familiar. The 9/11 attacks took place while he was a junior in high school. As military recruiters made routine visits to high schools across the nation, patriotic young Americans like Jason were determined to enlist. “I felt it was my job to do something for my country,” Jason says. Three months into a tour of duty in Iraq, and just two weeks shy of his 20th birthday, Jason Ehrhart’s Humvee took a direct hit from two anti-tank mines. Propelled from the turret, Jason sustained injuries so severe that upon his return stateside, he was considered to be the most seriously wounded soldier in Maryland. “I remember the blast … until I blacked out,” Jason said. “Then, nothing.” That was because of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that put Jason into a coma for three months. His parents, Pam and Mike Estes, sat at his bedside every long day. “When we saw him the first time, it was pretty shocking,” Mike recalled. “I close my eyes and I can still see it.” Jason’s parents clung to the hope that when he did come out of the coma they were going to get Jason back. “It turns out, we didn’t get Jason,” Mike said, sadly. “He’s not what he was. He’s lost a lot.” After surviving nearly 40 surgeries and skin grafts, Jason was still so severely injured that his parents were told that it would be best if they left him permanently in the Veterans Administration hospital. They took a tour of the facility and ended up in the lunchroom. There they saw GIVING WARRIORS AND THEIR FAMILIES A FIGHTING CHANCE The Toll on Families Following Traumatic Injury U.S. Army Specialist Jason Ehrhart, With Smoky Mountain Service Dog, Freedom Continued ... “I felt it was my job to do something for my country.” Jason Ehrhart