Stella, N.C. (WNCT)–One special wish for a local wounded warrior came true on Friday.
Retired Gunnery Sergeant Brien Kirkpatrick was injured in 2005 when an IED exploded under his vehicle in Fallujah, Iraq. More than a decade later, he requested specialized tools to help expand his woodworking business.
“When I knew I was going to retire, I decided to start doing something,” Kirkpatrick said. “And woodworking for me, I’ve been fortunate enough, has given me the opportunity to make that transition a little bit easier.”
Hope for the Warriors granted his wish on Friday. Air Force veteran Michael Nehlsen raised money to buy about $15,000 worth of tools.
Nehlsen has assisted Hope for the Warriors and sponsored eight wishes. He rode 5,000 miles on his motorcycle to meet Kirkpatrick for the first time and to see his woodworking equipment in use.
“From following orders and doing a daily job and coming back to nothing, it is definitely a strange feeling,” Nehlsen said. “I can’t imagine what he went through.”
Hope for the Warriors Regional Director Edward Raimo says transitioning back into civilian life is often a challenge.
“You’re focusing on the mission and all of a sudden the mission’s not there anymore,” Raimo said. “You need to fill those gaps to keep engaged and sometimes using the brain on calculations with wood and artwork helps the service member in his transition.”
Kirkpatrick says he’s grateful for the support he’s received. “Here we are, we have a shop and we have equipment,” he said. “We’re doing some neat things, and it’s incredibly humble and grateful for sure.”
This is the fourth wish this year granted to a Wounded Warrior. In the last ten years, Hope for the Warriors has granted 158 wishes totaling more than $765,000.