With his father having served in the Army Special Forces, Shawn Nelson grew up with the Army culture instilled in his childhood home in Durango, Colorado. In Shawn’s words, he was “groomed for the job” to serve in the Army one day.
Shawn enlisted in the Army in 1994. He completed Basic Training at Fort Sill, OK. Shawn was a Health Care Specialist and was stationed in a variety of locations throughout his military career. Initially, Shawn spent a year in Korea before returning close to home to serve at Fort Carson, CO. His unit was involved in the West Coast wildfire relief efforts in 1996, which earned him the Humanitarian Service Medal. In 1997, Shawn made his way over to Belgium and was stationed there for three years. He returned to the states in 2000 to serve at Fort Drum, NY. After the events of 9/11 took place, Shawn’s unit was preparing to go over to Afghanistan. However, Shawn ended up going to Bosnia-Herzegovina to assist in Balkan efforts. From 2002 until the end of his time in the Army, Shawn served in Germany, Kuwait, and Iraq. He earned the rank of Staff Sergeant by the time he was honorably discharged in 2014.
Returning to civilian life meant leaving behind all of the resources Shawn had in the Army. He sustained Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and 28% surface area burns during his time in Iraq. Shawn has struggled to obtain assistance with his injuries and housing needs since he and his wife settled in South Carolina.
Due to the extent of his burns, Shawn can’t perspire properly, making it difficult to deal with hot environments in addition to dealing with the chronic pain from scar tissue and missing nerves. Shawn uses prescription eyewear due to light sensitivity and avoids large crowds of people as often as possible.
Purple Heart Homes will provide Shawn with an AC unit that meets his needs, as well as retrofit the entire house so the air can flow effectively. “I’m so thankful for this AC unit. You all have given me hope,” Shawn shared with us. Thank you, Shawn, for your dedication and service to our country. Welcome to the Purple Heart Homes family!