A Soldier’s Home Away From Home

By Dale Beatty
December 1, 2015
Wounded Veteran with family standing in a lobby

Serving my country was embedded in my DNA from an early age. My family has fought for the U.S. military since the American Revolution. I grew up hearing stories and seeing pictures on the dining room mantel of my grandfather and great grandfather in uniform. Learning about their experience in the military was extremely impactful, I knew I would serve my country someday. At age 17, I joined the Army.

At age 26, my life changed. On Nov.15, 2004, I was serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom when a roadside bomb flipped my Humvee and I lost both of my legs.

Initially, I was sent to Landstuhl in Germany to be stabilized before going to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for long-term rehabilitation. My wife, Belinda, soon joined me with our two boys, Dustin and Lucas, who were two years old and six months old at the time. They stayed at a hotel and made trips to the hospital every day.

About a week into my recovery, Belinda moved into a Fisher House on the medical center’s campus. This was the first I heard about Fisher House Foundation, but I soon became very familiar with our new “home away from home” that would allow my family to be close by during my recovery.

We had a safe place to live as a family at no cost because of the support from Fisher House. As I recovered, my kids were able to play with other children going through the same thing and Belinda was able to talk with other military spouses. Ten years later, these families are still some of our closest friends. Without Fisher House Foundation, I don’t know how my family and I would have worked through this hard time.

Since its inception, Fisher House has saved military and veterans’ families millions in out-of-pocket costs for lodging and transportation by providing a network of homes across the country for families whose loved ones are in a nearby military or veteran hospital. I believe it’s a cause worth supporting, and that’s why it’s great to hear that Walmart is working with Fisher House Foundation this holiday season to help more families like mine be together during times of recovery. You can learn how to get involved by visiting walmart.com/sing2salute.

Today, Belinda and I live in North Carolina with our boys who are now 13 and 11, and a baby girl, Sophia, and appreciate every day for what it is. I have the great privilege of serving disabled veterans through my own nonprofit called Purple Heart Homes. I’ll remain forever grateful for what Fisher House did for me and my family. They provided me with good medicine that had nothing to do with a prescription or doctor – it provided me with a place to re-integrate myself and my family back into the community.