The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

January 17, 2013

Wounded Warrior Banquet

HUNTSVILLE — Helping returning veterans and wounded warriors overcome their sense of isolation is the most important thing a community can do for them, said retired U.S. Army Col. David Sutherland, the keynote speaker at Thursday’s annual Wounded Warrior Banquet.

About 900 people packed the main building at the Walker County Fairgrounds, rented this year by Walker County justices, judges and the sheriff for the event, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior support group and associated charities.

Sutherland, who served in Iraq and is now executive director of the Center for Military and Veteran Community Services, is an advocate for returning veterans and several organizations devoted to their needs.

He described his own experience in returning from combat in Iraq to find the quiet normalcy of Killeen, Texas, unnerving — to the confusion of his wife and sons. One of his sons, he said, was a young child on Sept. 11, 2001, and couldn’t remember a time when his father was not “going to war, at war or coming home from war.”

The families of returning troops make many sacrifices, he said. “You can’t talk about us without talking about our families....It’s them we come home to.”

But once removed from the fierce loyalty and camaraderie of fellow troops, veterans endure a transitional period of isolation and mental stress.

“The bonds that exist on the battlefield are like nothing you can imagine,” Sutherland said. “When they come home (those bonds) are ripped apart.”

Families of returning veterans must deal with wounds they sometimes can see and those they cannot, and availability of mental health care is a major issue, Sutherland said.

The lack of mental health care for veterans has created a crisis, according to statistics Sutherland presented, which showed that 18 veterans commit suicide every day and that 50 percent of those returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan report depression and other mental health issues.

But the community can and does help by reaching out to help veterans reconnect.

“The number one remedy is feeling like you fit in, like you’re connected again,” he said.

Veterans are more susceptible to experiencing problems re-adjusting to life stateside if they’ve suffered life-changing injuries or have trouble finding post-military employment. But, Sutherland said, if they’re embraced by their families and communities and given a chance to prove themselves, they use the “warrior ethos” they developed in combat to excel in civilian life.

“This generation of veterans is wired to serve,” he said.

In a series of moving anecdotes, Sutherland — who asked that those present not videotape or record his speech because of its deeply personal nature — used the intense, moving and sometimes graphic stories of actual soldiers to illustrate elements of the Soldier’s Creed:

“I will always place the mission first.”

“I will never accept defeat.”

“I will never quit.”

The creed’s last line — “I will never leave a fallen comrade” — describes the homecoming embrace of veterans’ friends, family and community.

Addressing those present, Sutherland said of the creed’s last line, “That’s you. And we trust you and when we say that, that’s saying a lot....We fought for our families, our neighbors, our communities and my buddy on my right and on my left.”

And, Sutherland said in the emotional conclusion of his speech, which elicited a standing ovation, “I would fight for you again, and I would die for you.”

Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and retired Army Col. Bruce Crandall, who spoke before Sutherland, opened the evening with a call for communities to reach out to wounded warriors with their presence.

“You don’t have to just give of your money,” he said. “Give of your time.”

He said he brings his small dog, Huey, who joined Crandall on stage, to visit wounded veterans “and Huey makes them smile.”

“I take a dog because I know I’m not that interesting of a character. Those soldiers don’t want to look at a colonel.

Crandall, 79, received the Medal of Honor in 2010 for his actions during the Battle of Ia Drang, Vietnam, in 1965. During that battle, he flew 22 missions in unarmed helicopters to bring ammunition to the troops and evacuate the wounded.

He urged Walker County residents to help bring to local schools what he called the legacy of former medal of honor winners, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Character Development Program. Now active in 44 states, this free school curriculum is designed to teach kids how to serve their communities.

For more information about the Congressional Medal of Honor Character Development Program, visit

In addition to an as yet undetermined amount of funds raised Thursday night for the Warrior and Family Support Center, Able’s Sporting of Huntsville and its customers raised a combined $40,000 for wounded warriors and associated charities, which was donated at Thursday’s banquet.

Text Only
Local News
  • 4-23-Davison,-Brent.jpg Infant stable, but still critical

    A 2-month-old baby who was found unresponsive at a Huntsville residence last week is in stable but critical condition at a Houston hospital.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historian: Let’s talk about civil rights in Huntsville

    In 1965, the civil rights movement made its way to the city of Huntsville, beginning with a sit-in at the Cafe Raven, a popular restaurant at the time.
    To celebrate next year’s 50th anniversary of the move toward racial integration, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum will be hosting an oral history event for citizens and senior citizens to get together and share their accounts of the civil rights movement in Huntsville on Thursday night at 7.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23 Hair.jpg ‘Hair’ still growing on young actors, audiences more than 40 years after debut

    War, peace, racism, sexism, mistrust of the government, radical change, social and sexual revolution, freedom of expression, scandal, civil liberties, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, turning on, tuning in, dropping out, but never fading away.
    Is this the dawning of a new Age of Aquarius?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-22-Sunshine-Boys.jpg Huntsville Community Theatre presents 'The Sunshine Boys'

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-21-Reunion.jpg PHOTOS: Haynes family gathers for annual Easter reunion

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • 4-21 Cop Story.jpg Sheriff’s officers adopt local woman into their family

    When Walker County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a suspected burglary two years ago at the home of 83-year-old Madelene Patton, they left with much more than they expected.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Camp-Good-News-2012-014.jpg Good News in Navasota: Free summer camp open to kids with parents in prison

    For many young children, seeing a parent behind bars can be a traumatizing experience.
    Unfortunately, the young people often become the victims in cases dealing with imprisoned parents.
    The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has worked hard to give these young folks a place where they feel accepted and can share their experiences with others who are going through the same pain.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Camp Hope comes to Huntsville to help veterans

    “Late at night it’s drizzling rain ... I am hit and feel no pain ... jagged shrapnel on the fly ... chills my blood and makes me cry ... but in my heart I have no fear ... because my Ranger god is near ... I’ll be the best that I can be ... Airborne Ranger Infantry.”
    Rousing, impassioned, inspiring cadences are designed to birth a soldier. However, what elements are in place for the rebirth of a civilian who has had their “blood chilled,” and made to cry?

    April 19, 2014

  • 4-20-Lawsuit.jpg City wins condemnation case, owner appeals to higher court

    Randy Gardner is fighting back after losing a section of his property to the City of Huntsville in initial condemnation proceedings.
    On March 27, a set of special commissioners — three impartial citizen landowners who by law oversee these cases — awarded Gardner close to $13,500 for two sections of land. Neither Gardner or his attorney Bennie Rush attended the hearing, according to court documents.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19-Sheriff-Award.jpg Sheriff says thanks to good Samaritan

    A Good Samaritan is uncommon today. Claude Williams, however, exemplifies this rare virtue that is so often admired, yet seldom acted upon.
    On the morning of April 5, Williams, a 75-year-old retired peace officer, saw a deputy from the Walker County Sheriff’s Office struggling with a resisting suspect at the intersection of FM 2821 and FM 247 in Huntsville.
    Without hesitation, Williams sprung into action.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo


House Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide