Healing Tools for Warriors Restores a Sense of Purpose
Penny Pinkham was born into a military family at Fort Riley, Kansas. She understood early on the potential dangers of serving your country.
But almost nothing could have prepared her for what was to come. She has had four children suffer significant injuries in the line of duty.
One son fell 800 feet during training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, suffering a spine fracture and head trauma. Another became 100 percent disabled following a bombing in Israel.
Yet another son suffered a head injury from a grenade and blew out his knees in a ruck march. A daughter broke her hip during an airborne jump.
It Started With a 3-Day Weekend
“After seeing the boys struggle with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, I felt I needed to help not only the warrior but the caregiver as well,” Penny said.
“This is where our Healing Tools for Warriors (HTFW) was born. My heart wants to reach out to the community, businesses and organizations to help with the healing process.”
Penny said the idea for Healing Tools started as a way to welcome warriors home and help them re-acclimate to society.
“Early on we had a three-day weekend for them involving fishing, scuba diving and other fun stuff on the water,” she said.
Retreat Brings Resources to Warriors
“It was a celebration of the warriors and their homecoming. The next day was more relaxed as we pampered the caregivers while the guys went deep-sea fishing.
“It felt good to do that, and they appreciated it, but I just felt like it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t ongoing. So, I started with our local guys, helping them with as many resources as we could.
“Then we did a retreat twice a year in order to bring the resources to the warrior. Including service dogs and equine therapy, and speakers who talked about job opportunities and finances.”
Healing Tools is open to all who serve. Including the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, fire departments, police and emergency medical services.
From Veterans to First Responders
“It was mostly vets when we first started,” said Robin Ford, president of HTFW. “Mainly for vets who were either kicked out or had to get out for medical reasons.
“But then we pulled in first responders because they go through the same types of things except in a different theater.”
The organization serves close to 500 people per year. Most are local, but some come from other states including North Carolina and Texas.
“We bring hope and opportunity, and let God heal the rest,” Penny said.
Battle Buddies Are Crucial
Penny and Robin both expressed how important Battle Buddies are to the overall success of the program. And to the warriors’ success.
“Some are spouses, some are boyfriends and girlfriends, and some are moms and dads,” Robin said.
Sometimes the Battle Buddy has four legs.
“Some of the vets can’t be around too many people and that’s why a service dog is trained to stand between the vet and whoever is around,” she said.
“Some dogs can even see tremors and night sweats coming on and will wake up the vet while he’s sleeping.
“Including the Battle Buddies has been instrumental in getting them to understand what their loved one is going through. They see it’s a community of problems and not just limited to their loved one.”
Connecting With Volunteers and Grads
In a typical year, Healing Tools hosts a retreat that allows warriors to be introduced to other warriors in similar situations.
“Normally about 75 to 100 people attend and we bring in their Battle Buddies,” Robin said. “The veterans, first responders and others come and we have guest speakers who discuss issues including finances.
“The local community steps up and donates and serves food. Each night we gather at the fire pit to talk and we have a church service on Sunday.”
The pandemic shut down the annual retreat in 2020, but the 2021 event is scheduled for September 30 to October 3 at Camp Timpooche in Okaloosa County, Florida. A scheduled speaker is Hamody Jasim, the “Terrorist Whisperer” who was recruited by U.S. intelligence and who fought against Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq.
Fundraiser Pulls in $16K
Despite the pandemic, Healing Tools held its 5th annual fundraiser in March 2021 at the 4C BBQ in DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
“The first year we did this, we took in about $4,000 to $5,000 in profit. This time we took in over $16,000,” Robin said.
4Patriots donated a number of items for the event. Including two Patriot Power Cells, one HaloXT Tactical Flashlight, an Emergency Radio, two Personal Water Filters and a 72-hour Survival Food Kit.
“The folks at the first responder and warrior tables were especially excited about those items,” Robin said.
Pushing Through the Pain
With three adult children who have suffered serious injuries while serving their country, and after undergoing three surgeries herself over the past 12 months, Penny could easily turn bitter and angry.
Instead, she has continued to channel her grief and pain into helping U.S. military veterans get through their own serious problems and come out on the other end better and stronger.
“It’s a God thing,” Penny said. “I leave it all in His hands. I believe God puts you through these tests and the end of that becomes your testimony. I’m so passionate about our warriors. I know they need me and I want to help them.”
Others can help them as well. Anyone wishing to make a donation to Healing Tools for Warriors can visit www.healingtoolsforwarriors.com and click on “Donate Now.”