Shanda Taylor-Boyd

Dear Marie,

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I wanted to pick up a pen and write a thank you note to Villagers For Veterans and how my life has begun to feel even more meaningful. Well, you may have heard from one or two of my fellow veterans how powerful it is when we are afforded the opportunity to become a part of the lives of fellow sister and brother injured veterans, their caregivers. Many of us lived and are motivated to keep it moving, with the pain, obstacles and endless challenges which accompany our physical and invisible wounds. This is where my Villagers For Veterans Family's dedicated mission to help and provide assistance to us and our loved ones plays an extraordinary and even more significant role in our lives.

There is not a single event or activity that I have been blessed to attend where somewhere along the way, another veteran or several and I did not end up having some type of conversation about how fortunate, how blessed, how encouraged, how supported, how appreciated and how loved we feel. We feel somewhat carefree and unbound from what we do and face "Back home where we live." There is always the best accommodations where we can catch up on the rest that we so desperately need because many of our wounds create difficulties in our ability to sleep. For example, Fibromyalgia, PTSD, and TBI all of which I have as a result of my service (during duty) are three just off the top of my mind as to the sporatic, inconsistent, less than restful and inadequate sleep. Just think, who would ever guess that simply by providing us an opportunity to get some rest would mean so much, be so significant and create emotional, psychological, and even spiritual mood elevations. That's just one aspect of why we love Villagers For Veterans and appreciate all your efforts. I almost forgot about the wonderful cleaning and bed making that is taken care of in our accommodations. This is huge. Everyday I do my best to make my bed because it gives me such a huge sense of accomplishment each time I walk in there for something throughout the day. Oh! Clean wash cloths and towels mean no laundry to wash. I have not actually started doing my laundry until a few moths ago. I took it to have it washed, dried and folded because it took too much energy. So for at least four years no laundry washing for me at home. There is just so much to be thankful for.

Nourishment is another huge blessing. When food is not only provided but also prepared, and it is cooked in something other than a microwave...this is cause to celebrate as I do not and have not used a stove for quite some time, at least a few years. Eventually maybe...But just imagine the energy that you are saving me by freeing that time it takes to go grocery shopping (which I have to start making a priority, time it takes to decide what will be put together, then gathering all the equipment, ingredients, pots, pans, preparing the stove and or oven, then the energy it takes to focus, concentrate and pay attention to what is on the stove or baking. Then taking it out off the oven or off the stove, finding a place to sit it down as not to destroy the counter tops, then deciding what to serve it on, how much to put on the plate, where to sit, grab your utensils and napkins oh and to wash hands. Oh! The clean up is so much more involved and the very thought of it exhaust me. Now I see why I do not spend precious energy that i have to use to feed and walk Timber and get a little exercise in.

I could go into details about so much more, but I need to emphasize the overall quality of life improving benefits of the music, entertainment, performers and the chance to dance (James stood up fr the first time in a long time to dance with me last year. that was a miracle. Pam always gets on the dance floor and boogies with me in her wheel chair!) I am only touching the surface.

The recognition that is extended to us at each event, like The Mighty Moms of Walter Reed, The Orchid Galas, and the specific therapeutic events like the equine, art, and more. Well, I really want to write more, but I hope if a fellow injured veteran ever has a chance to red this, s/he can feel how much I so hope they too will be afforded the amazing opportunities to attend an incredible event. Now what comes to my mind is the fund raisers to benefit our heroes, a service animal for Pam Kelly, funds for arms for John Peck, a ZOOM for Kat and all the donations that were made at the very first gala in order to purchase track and all terrain mobility devices so that another injured veteran may be able to do some of the things he or she has been unable to do since sustaining his or her injuries. The families are blessed and just a word about the respite for the amazing caregivers. They have a break and experience the joy of seeing their veteran spouse, son, daughter or other loved one express a sense of happiness, hope and optimism because of what Villagers For Veterans and their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to assist our nation's injured warriors and our loved ones. I just cannot say enough positive words about how I feel when I am there in the Villages, The Friendliest Hometown!


Shanda Taylor-Boyd
CPT, U.S. Army, Retired