American Legion answers family's need for keeping veteran safe, healthy

Ashly Barton reached out to several veteran organizations to see if she could receive help for her husband, U.S. Marine veteran Joshua Barton. While on a mission in Afghanistan, Joshua was thrown from the vehicle he was in, affecting his mobility and mental health. “There are a lot of things from that day that nightmares are made of,” he said. “I don’t know if my mind will ever heal, but I do have hopes for my body one day healing.”

Both Joshua and his chiropractic doctor felt that to regain fitness and strength through cardio equipment that had low impact on the spine and knee, an elliptical machine would be the best option. However, between their four young kids and Joshua’s “PTSD and anxiety, it makes it hard for us to leave the house and go to a gym,” Ashly said.

Ashly’s request for help was to have an elliptical machine in the safety of their home. And The American Legion was “the only organization that responded and offered help,” she said.

“Joshua has anxiety around too many people and an elliptical machine at home would lower his anxiety, keeping him in a position to feel less guarded and less overwhelmed with concerns for injury from falling.”

Through The American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program, an elliptical was delivered Thursday, Oct. 8, to the home of Joshua and Ashly in Spring, Texas. American Legion Department of Texas District 7 Commander Jeanette Merritt was present for the OCW grant.

“It was very rewarding for me,” Merritt said. “He doesn’t like meeting new people but we sat side by side in his living room and talked for about 45 minutes. He said that I was his new friend. I told him if you need anybody to talk to, day or night, call me. My phone is right by my bed.”

Joshua hasn’t been able to be on the floor playing with his kids or jump on the trampoline with them because of his injuries. But Joshua and Ashly see the elliptical machine as a newfound hope in that changing.

The elliptical “means having my husband back, the freedom to have him participate in our daily lives because with his injuries he can’t be the active father he used to be and wants to be,” Ashly said. “It gives him the ability to work out and not constantly looking over his shoulder and worrying about what’s going to happen.

“Thank you for the grant. We really do appreciate it.”

Joshua shared that the elliptical will allow him to “exercise in my own home, alleviating the mental stress of being in public and building my body to relieve the pain from my joints and my back so I can function and be a father that I want to be, the husband that I want to be.”

Joshua and his family will remain connected to The American Legion through the OCW grant and Merritt.

“I asked Joshua if it would be okay if I kept in contact with him and he said, ‘You can come to my house anytime you want to.’ I teared up,” Merritt shared. As a Vietnam War Army veteran who served as a medic, “I did see a lot but yesterday (during the OCW presentation) gave me a new look on all of the wounded warriors that we have out there and they need help.”

Operation Comfort Warriors

Operation Comfort Warriors

This program provides comfort items for wounded, injured or ill military personnel. All donations to this fund go directly towards the purchase of these comfort items.