What Happens After We Celebrate July 4th?

For me, July 4th represents so much more than a break from a busy life. As in years past, I participated in the annual American Veteran’s Tribute Organization (AVTO) celebration at beautiful Lake Gaston, North Carolina. I am also a board member of this venerable organization that partners with Lakeside Educational Network to provide information vital to the recovery of veterans from brain injury, debilitating physical injury and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This year, AVTO  honored Retired Army Staff Sergeant Brian Pearce, who faithfully served our country, became injured in war and has had to endure the consequences, including PTSD. 

American Veterans Tribute Organization honors veteran Brian Pearce

AVT honors Veterans at annual July4th tribute celebration.
AVT honors Veterans at annual July4th tribute celebration.

In Iraq, about seven years ago, Brian Pearce was riding in a Humvee when an IED exploded beside his vehicle. Brian suffered significant brain injury, several serious disabilities then PTSD. (You can meet Brian at the American Veteran’s Tribute Organization web site, hear his story and learn of the issues he has been facing.)

For Brian, his wife Angie, daughter Jordan, and son Logan, the journey has been treacherous and difficult. Due to Brian’s injuries,  his family found themselves dealing with a husband and dad who came back a very different person than the one they knew. Yet, they stood by Brian, and through the healing process, he recognized how important his family was during his recovery.

Brian’s family represents one of thousands of military families facing incredible difficulties. Each deserves a standing ovation for continued resilience, patience and commitment. For Brian, the past seven years have been difficult, but the family has emerged intact, and with a great story to tell.

On Saturday, July 6, thousands gathered at Lake Gaston to honor and celebrate Brian Pearce and many like him. Our AVT band played for six hours prior to a huge fireworks display. The celebration included sky divers, fly-bys, awards, giveaways and fund-raising. Hundreds of boats settled in the beautiful cove for a day of relaxing fun, especially to offer tribute to American veterans.

The AVTO annual celebration at Lake Gaston is meaningful and dynamic. And well it should be, as the valiant, trauma-impared heroes who have fought to protect our freedom are now in recovery from their tragic experiences. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate these veterans. I think it is important to say thank you to a veteran who has secured our safety and honor as a nation. They deserve tribute and honor.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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