Posted By: Bill Schammert
The community of Beatrice stepped up for this Veteran's Day.
A benefit auction and dinner was held Wednesday night in Beatrice at the Veteran's Club.
The VFW sponsored the event to help a retired U.S. Army sargent who makes it his mission to help other vets every day.
"We hit a catastrophic IED and it killed my gunner, my medic and my driver and threw me from the vehicle. I was basically caught on fire," Michael Schlitz said.
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 said Wednesday night.
But months in the hospital and 85 surgeries later, this wounded warrior stands on two feet and smiles.
"In the military you're not allowed to quit, you're not allowed to give up, you're always pushing forward trying to complete the mission."
Schlitz spends most of his days now giving back, helping other wounded veterans get back on their feet. Five trips to the Pentagon, two to the White House just in the last year to raise awareness. But, even he still needs help.
That's where the Beatrice VFW comes into play. The spaghetti feed and silent auction is a goal 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," said Leon Hagan, a veteran.
It's a brotherhood spanning generations, each with their own stories of tragedy and heroism. Asked what he wants people to take away from his story, Schlitz said simply,
"I'm just one guy, there's thousands of wounded veterans out there and thousands of veterans in need, and it takes communities to get involved."
The VFW raised more than $6,000.
If you'd like to donate, go to: http://www.garysinisefoundation.org/ or