CUMBERLAND — Local Army veteran Vickie Doolan-Fearon will likely remember this Christmas for a long time after the disabled veteran was presented with an electric wheelchair Saturday donated by a veterans support group.
Doolan-Fearon, 54, of Cresaptown, received a call Wednesday from Germaine Broussard, founder of the nonprofit organization Troop Treats, informing her she had been selected to receive the wheelchair.
“This will be one of the biggest things to help me get back into life,” said Doolan-Fearon, with tears in her eyes.
The wheelchair that Troop Treats staff members ob-tained for Doolan-Fearon is a 24-volt Jazzy Select Traveller valued at $3,500.
“These guys are walking angels,” said Doolan-Fea-ron, who has limited mobility as a result of knee and back injuries sustained while serving in Iraq.
Based in McLean, Va., Troop Treats has been supporting veterans at home and abroad for over 10 years with gift packages, cookies, hygiene packs and their popular stuffed toy bears called Battle Buddies.
Broussard and Robert Fratkin, vice president of Troop Treats, along with Doolan-Fearon and several of her family members, spoke to the Times-News after the new wheelchair was delivered to the vet’s home Saturday.
“It’s been 10 years. They’ve touched my heart so,” said Doolan-Fearon.
Shortly after graduating from Bruce High School in 1977, she entered the U.S. Army and worked her way up to sergeant in the military police.
“My unit was the 324th Military Police Battalion out of Chambersburg, Pa.,” Doolan-Fearon said.
Her world changed drastically after she was deployed after 9/11 and ended up at Camp Warhorse in Baquba, Iraq, in February 2003. Doolan-Fearon said that trailers had not arrived at that point and soldiers had camouflage netting and slept in tents or in their vehicles.
“We were expecting to work at enemy prisoner of war camps,” said Doolan-Fearon, who was made first sergeant prior to leaving for Iraq.
Instead, her unit was promptly assigned to provide combat support for the Alpha Company 367 Armored Regiment of the 2nd Battalion. The 367th was a tank unit.
“We did missions every day,” she said.
Doolan-Fearon said they conducted raids, cleared routes and hunted for the “deck of cards,” most wanted, including Saddam Hussein.
“It was nonstop. We were a couple of hours behind Saddam a lot,” said Doolan-Fearon.
However, it was back at Camp Warhorse were she sustained her most serious injuries.
“During mortar attacks, you find the closest bunker you can get,” she said.
Doolan-Fearon severly damaged both knees while ducking for cover.
“Most times they would fire a couple of mortars. One day they put us under fire. They kept coming,” she said.
As everyone scrambled for cover, a mortar struck a dining facility that was constructed across the road just two days prior.
“I busted my knee big-time that day,” she said.
Doolan-Fearon said they wanted her to leave for treatment but she refused.
“I had a lot of soldiers I was responsible for,” she said.
Doolan-Fearon was retired not long after her tour ended. In the years after leaving the Army her injuries grew worse. She has traumatic arthritis in both knees, herniated discs and degenerative back disease, low blood pressure and post traumatic stress disorder.
“The veterans deserve everything we can possibly do for them,” says Fratkin.
Doolan-Fearon has one daughter and three grandchildren. Her family is most thrilled about the wheelchair’s ability to give her mobility and independence.
“It’s the most wonderful thing I could see her get. It’s fantastic,” said Doolan-Fearon’s mother, Eleanor.
“It’s a godsend. I prayed for it a lot,” said her father, Harold Doolan.
Meanwhile, Troop Treats plans to continue to help veterans.
“You don’t do it for the glory. You do it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Broussard, who also works at Morgan-Stanley.
Sean Geiger, a co-worker of Broussard, gave the wheelchair to Troop Treats. Geiger had the chair in the family and they no longer needed it.
A nonprofit called Wounded Wear recommended Doolan-Fearon for the wheelchair.
“It’s priceless to be able to care for someone else like vet. They protect our freedoms.” said Broussard.
To find out more about Troop Treats, or to make a donation, visit the website TroopTreats.com.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com.