Together, we make it possible to provide critical services for our wounded, injured and ill service members.
Retired Army Major Pete Way started his military career in 1986. His service to our country included Army Reserves and National Guard, while also pursuing his second Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree. Fifteen years went by quickly, until September 11, 2001, when Pete watched as our country was attacked. He immediately knew that he needed to do more. Two weeks later, he was assigned to active duty, prepping units for anti-terrorism in special operations. Soon after, he was deployed to Afghanistan on a Direct Action Team as a Field Medic in 2002.
Within the next year, Pete sustained two injuries, one of which initially seemed like a minor shrapnel injury, but would later develop into a serious medical problem. He was treated in the field and eventually returned to Ft. Bragg for surgery, which only temporarily fixed the injury.
Over the next decade, persistent infections continued to invade his leg to the point that he was no longer able to do his job. The destructive combination of PTSD and prescribed pain medications proved to be a curse that was taking a toll on Pete’s mental and physical health, and on his wife Ann and their children. Fortunately, he recognized where he was headed before it was too late. Pete stopped the pain medications immediately and then medically retired in 2013. Seven months later, Pete’s severely damaged leg was amputated above the knee. As an amputee, his determination wouldn’t allow him to accept that he couldn’t do everything he was once able to. However, he has had to rely on a wheelchair, his service dog and Ann, as his caregiver since the amputation.
In the last 2-1/2 years alone, Pete has endured 10 surgeries and made numerous trips to Walter Reed. During the first few visits, Pete and Ann improvised to reduce hotel expenses by using their RV to sleep in and used the gym to shower. It wasn’t ideal but it was the best solution until, as Pete describes, the “game-changer” day that they learned about Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Crossroads program which offers hotel accommodations through partnerships and YRF fully-furnished apartments for longer stays — all nearby to Walter Reed.
More good news arrived 18 months months when Pete was accepted into the Osseointegration research program at Walter Reed. This complex procedure will drastically improve his quality of living and mobility. Pete and Ann are incredibly grateful to YRF for the continued support and peace of mind, knowing that they have access to safe, comfortable lodging in a familiar environment. Without that support, expenses would leave them with a significant financial burden for the foreseeable future.
Through this journey, Ann has embraced the Keystone program, which offers caregivers a much-needed network, resources and events with other caregivers. With this vital connection, she no longer feels alone, and is instead empowered to give back because she and Pete feel so fortunate for the support they’ve received from YRF. According to Ann “My positive experience with Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Keystone Program has been life-changing, and it has made our lives better and healthier.”
Next summer Pete is expected to complete the Osseointegration program. He will remain a patient of Walter Reed for life, and Yellow Ribbon Fund will continue to support him whenever temporary housing is needed during hospital visits. He looks forward to enjoying his newfound freedom and beginning to explore many of the activities he once enjoyed before his injuries many years ago. He is also proud to personally commission his daughter and son, as they graduate from ROTC this year.