Our brave citizens serve in the military. Nathan, one of the first members of our Founders Group, demonstrated compassion and care that is inspirational. We are proud to share his story with you: Before he was knocked out for seven days, John was driving a familiar road near his home in Panama, where he retired and met his future wife. But while driving about 45 mph and approaching a curve, his eyes wandered. One of his tires hit a rock and flipped the car over. That’s all he remembers about the accident that nearly killed him. It damaged his spine, making him a quadriplegic. John said he lost 30 pounds in as many days. He needed to find a way back to the United States for treatment. John called Tom and Barbara Dorsey, friends who were 4,000 miles away. Tom and John grew up together and joined the Army together under the buddy system. Now, the man Tom played Little League and built snow forts was looking at never moving his arms or legs again. The Walworth couple decided to help John get back to the United States. They soon entered what felt like a logistical nightmare.Did John have proper medical tests? How would they translate his health records? Who could help him get on a plane? “We were at wits’ end,” Tom said. “Every time we’d hear something positive, it’d blow up in our face. We were running out of ideas.”So, Tom and Barbara reached out to Nathan Bond, the veterans service officer for Walworth County, Wisconsin. “To be honest, I wasn’t absolutely positive about what to do,” Nathan said. But he was determined to find a way.Nathan and the Dorseys found generosity in their community. The Southern Wisconsin Interpreting & Translation Services for John’s medical records dropped the price from $5,000 to $1,500. Local veterans groups donated quite a bit, and Nathan and his wife gave $500. Nathan then set John up to gain entry into the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.
Getting a quadriplegic man from Central America to Wisconsin proved uncomfortable and challenging. A friend of John’s in Panama helped him to get to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Nathan rented a van in Brookfield and drove to the airport to get John, who came through customs at about 1 a.m, exhausted but glad to be home.From afar, Nathan said he had a detached intellectual understanding of John’s condition. “But then, when you’re there in person, that when the emotional understanding hit home. This gentleman is going to be entirely relying on me to get him safely to his destination,” Nathan said. “There was even more of a determination to get this accomplished.'”McLernon’s re-entry into the U.S. wasn’t the most emotional moment for Nathan though. It was after the drive to King when Nathan could finally experience John getting the care he desperately needed. “It was a very emotional moment for me,” he said.
In March, after John was transferred for rehabilitation, Tom and Barbara went to visit John at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center unit for spinal injuries. Barbara almost didn’t recognize him.John said he has come to terms with his legs being paralyzed. But he’s working two hours a day with an apparatus to get more use from his arms—brushing his teeth, feeding himself, combing his own hair. John wants to write again or use a keyboard. All the calls Nathan made to arrange his entry into the facilities and all the times Nathan reassured John to hang in there meant $100 million worth of care for him, John said.Without Nathan, none of it would have been possible, Nathan was our only link to get anything done—our only hope,” Barbara said. She called him a saint. “He’s got a heart this big,” Tom said, spreading his arms.The Walworth County Board at its Feb. 12 meeting recognized Nathan and his staff for their outstanding service to veterans and their families.Nathan served nearly 25 years in the Army. Early on, he was called to active duty for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Now a Veterans Service Officer, Nathan noted everything he did for John was part of the job. But it was more. Nathan is relentless in following through helping others in need. John’s work is only 95 percent complete. It continues because they’re trying to bring John’s wife to the U.S. “Whatever John needs—he’s a Walworth County veteran, so we’ll do our best to help him and his family achieve their goals,” Nathan said. Between veterans, there’s an unspoken “I understand you.” It’s a shared mindset among those who have served in the military. Nathan understood Tom when he said, “You never leave a man behind.””He was stuck down in Panama,” Tom said. “That’s no different than laying out in the field with a bullet in his side. You pick your friend up and bring him home. Nathan was right on board with that. He understood what I was talking about.”We will leave no one behind at ExtendaTouch!