Giving Back to Those that Gave So Much - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Giving Back to Those that Gave So Much

A local community is giving back to one of our nation's veterans. He is a man who represents thousands of men and women injured while serving our country.

His name is U.S Army Retired Sargent First Class Michael Schlitz.  His story starts in southern Baghdad in 2007.  It's one of tragedy, pain and incredible perseverance.

"We hit a catastrophic IED and it killed my gunner, my medic and my driver and threw me from the vehicle," Schlitz said. "I was basically caught on fire."

Burns covered 85-percent of his body, parts of both arms needed to be amputated and he lost sight in his left eye.

"There's only two ways you find IEDs; you find them, you disarm them and you keep pushing forward, or they find you."

Schlitz spent months in the hospital, but 85-surgeries later, this wounded warrior is standing on two feet and smiling.

"In the military you're not allowed to quit, you're not allowed to give up, you're always pushing forward to complete the mission," Schlitz said.

He spends most of his days now giving back, helping other wounded veterans get back on their feet.  In the last year he's been to the Pentagon five times and the White House twice, all to raise awareness.  Though, even he still needs help.

That's where the Beatrice VFW comes into play.  On Wednesday it held a spaghetti feed and silent auction in order to raise thousands of dollars for a specialized home for Schlitz.

"I don't care if they served in Vietnam, Korea or any of the services today, we're all brothers," event organizer Leon Hagan said.

It's a brotherhood spanning generations, each with his or her own stories of tragedy and heroism. 

Asked what he wants people to take away from his story, Schlitz was humbled.

"I'm just one guy," Schlitz said. "There's thousands of wounded veterans out there and thousands of veterans in need.  It takes communities like this to get involved."

The VFW raised more than $6,000 at the event.  If you'd like to help, you can click on one of the following links:

http://www.tunneltotowersrun.org/

http://www.garysinisefoundation.org/help_us/donate

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