|08-05-2006, 05:34 AM||#1|
Join Date: Dec 2004
Park Brings Kids, Disabled GIs Together
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - The injuries that Staff Sgt. Todd Shaw suffered in Iraq make it difficult for him to play with his three children. His broken spine is reinforced with several rods and pins, he wears a back brace and he finds it hard to walk, particularly stepping up and down.
``Before I left, I used to go hunting and coached soccer for my son's team. Now I can't even pick up my youngest daughter,'' said Shaw, who serves in the 101st Airborne Division and returned from Iraq in April.
Now, Shaw can play with his children again thanks to a new playground at Fort Campbell, where the 101st is based.
It is designed for both parents and children with disabilities. Called the Boundless Playground, it has swings with harnesses and high backs, wheelchair ramps, shorter slides with side supports and a special rubberized surface both for wheelchairs and people who have trouble walking.
``I can actually walk out to the playground and there are no big steps to hinder me from getting out there and playing with my children,'' he said.
Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, spokesman for U.S. Army Human Resources, said that with advances in medical care and improved body armor, more soldiers are surviving enemy attacks, but they are coming home with permanent injuries.
Shaw is one of more than 19,000 U.S. soldiers who have been wounded in action in Iraq, according to recent statistics from the Department of Defense, and many are now staying in the military. ``Years ago we didn't outwardly support the retention of wounded soldiers, but we've started to embrace the saying, 'Never leave a man behind,''' Arata said.
The playground will serve more than 3,000 people at Fort Campbell. The base is located on the Kentucky-Tennessee line and has one of the largest disabled populations of any military base, said Sharon Fields, director of the base's Exceptional Family Members Program.
Actus Lend Lease helped build and design the playground.
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