La. Guardsman rallies group to assist veteran

Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo Recruiting and Retention Command Public Affairs Representative

One of the mottos of the Louisiana National Guard is "Protect What Matters," and that was portrayed when Maj. Joseph M. Barnett, engineer officer with the LANG's 139th Regional Support Group, enlisted the aid of his coworkers to help a disabled veteran in LaPlace, Oct. 26.

The group traveled to the home of Terrance D. McBride, formerly of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 56th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, to assist in some tasks that he was unable to complete due to his disabilities.

"I think of it as taking care of our own," said Barnett. "Service doesn't end just because drill is over."

Barnett and his crew from Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. mowed McBride's lawn, installed a new mailbox and repaired his wheelchair ramp and garage door, which were both damaged during Hurricane Isaac. As a bonus, they also erected a swing set in the backyard for McBride's two children.

"I just want to thank everyone who had a part in this," said McBride, a native of LaPlace. "It's just a great feeling to see veterans helping other veterans."

Initially, Barnett contacted the Wounded Warrior Project to see how he could help a veteran in need. The WWP then put Barnett in touch with NOLA Patriots, an organization dedicated to assisting disabled veterans and their families across the state.

"We discovered that during the pre and post service transitional periods, families were getting lost in the shuffle," said Shawn M. Cronan, president of NOLA Patriots. "When people come back from combat, we want to make sure they know what benefits and opportunities they're entitled to."

In August 2006, McBride was involved in a deployment training accident where his hip bones and both legs were broken, leading to his right leg being amputated.

Since then McBride and his family moved from Fort Bliss, Texas, and returned to his hometown.

"I figured this was the best place for us," said McBride. "I'm already familiar with the area, and it's a place that we can all be comfortable in."

Cronan and Barnett collaborated and came up with a plan to get a team to LaPlace to visit McBride and assist him with some of his needs.

"Helping other veterans is critical. I think there's a definite need for it," said Barnett. "We're just glad to be able to help. We're happy to give back."

"I just want them to keep up the good work," said McBride. "Maybe more people will follow suit when the word gets out."