By A.M. WERTZ
MUNCY - A benefit will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. June 2 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3428, Rear 12 N. Market St., for Sgt. 1st Class Wade Mitcheltree.
Above, Sgt. 1st Class Wade Mitcheltree is seen with his wife and two children. Mitcheltree, a 14 1/2-year veteran was severely injured in August 2012 while serving his third tour of duty. A benefit will be held in his honor from 1 to 5 p.m. June 2 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3428, Rear 12 N. Market St., Muncy.
The 34-year-old was critically wounded during his third tour of duty in August 2012. Mitcheltree grew up in Williamsport and is residing in Texas with his wife and family while he completes his medical care, as well as physical and occupational therapy at the Brooke Army Medical Center and the Center for the Intrepid. Family and friends of the 14 1/2-year veteran would like to help the "Wounded Warrior" with medical bills and lifestyle changes that are necessary because of his extensive injuries.
The benefit will include a meal, a live band, 50-50 drawing, Chinese auction and many door prizes. Food donations are being accepted at the door or call 435-5091 for pick-up no later than noon June 1.
The Willpower For Wade Trust Fund also was established to help defray the costs the sergeant and his family have incurred.
According to Wade's sister, Denise, the trust was set up for Mitcheltree to help cover the unexpected expenses specifically related to his injuries.
"He has quality medical coverage through the military but the trust helps with aspects that his military benefits don't cover," Denise said. "For example, due to his injuries, he needed to buy new clothing and have some of his clothes altered so that they would fit over his prosthetic leg and the various support braces on his left leg.
The trust also paid for a plane ticket for Wade to travel back to Fort Lewis to welcome his unit home from Afghanistan, troops that he had not seen since he was Medi-vacced out of the field. And the list goes on. The trust is there to help with aspects of his everyday life that have been forever changed."
Mitcheltree's recovery is very much in its early stages, Denise said.
"Most soldiers with similar injuries require a couple of years to overcome the injuries, endure the on-going surgeries, and complete physical and occupational therapies to adapt to a new normal," she said. "He recently started walking on a prosthetic leg because he suffered an above-the-knee amputation on his right leg. Severe damage to his right hand and forearm has greatly limited its function."
Denise added that Wade's condition is in a constant state of change. In fact, his wife told her he had more than 30 procedures done in the operating room within the first six weeks.
"Considering that Wade was hospitalized for over five months, that number is obviously higher," Denise said. "His team of doctors continue to work with Wade to maximize his recovery efforts, scheduling surgeries as needed. So many aspects of Wade's recovery are yet to be determined, but I know that he looks forward to spending most of the day upright on his prosthetic leg, walking, rather than relying on his wheelchair for daily activities. Wade is also being fitted for a newly developed ankle brace developed for Wounded Warriors that suffered irreversible damage to their Achilles tendon. With this brace, Wade is very determined to walk without pain, and someday even run."
Denise said the youngest of three siblings has an infectious personality.
"I've seen him at family picnics go from a serious, polite conversation with elder family members, to watching him wrestle a pack of young kids into a jumble of giggles," she said. "I've always been very proud of Wade for volunteering to serve our country, but to watch him handle the severe, life-changing injuries in such a determined way has been impressive and completely awe-inspiring."
For more information about the trust fund, which is set up at Sovereign Bank, contact Denise Mitcheltree at 923-2236. For more information about Mitcheltree and other fundraisers held in his honor, visit www.WillpowerForWade.com.