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Family of wounded soldier who stepped on IED raising money

Nov. 5, 2013 - 06:08PM   |  
Combat medic Zach Parker received life threatening injuries when he encountered an IED on June 11, 2012, while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Combat medic Zach Parker received life threatening injuries when he encountered an IED on June 11, 2012, while on patrol in Afghanistan. (Courtesy photo)
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Zach Parker (Courtesy photo)

Combat medic Cpl. Zachary Parker, 21, stepped on a roadside bomb in Afghanistan last year, and at first, he was not expected to survive.

Parker was in a coma for a month and lost his legs and one arm. He was in the hospital for about six months, recovered and remains at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

He has learned to cook for himself and has even tried to learn how to drive, said his sister Kayla Newitt.

But since Parker left Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas, the triple amputee has had complications from his wounds that have landed him back at BAMC several times, Newitt said. His latest surgery was last week.

Parker was wounded in June 2012 when he was with 555th Engineer Brigade of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

In the last year and a half of Parker’s recovery, Newitt said she has seen her mom sacrifice her health and her work to be in San Antonio, Texas, with her brother. Taking care of her brother has put her parents under financial strain, she said.

Their mother, whose health deteriorated after Parker’s injuries, left her job and is now staying at a Fisher House while Parker recovers from his latest surgery. Newitt said her stepdad, who owns an auto paint and body shop in Houston, Texas, has taken time off work to make weekly trips to see Parker, from his first six months recovering at BAMC, and every time he has been in the hospital and Fisher House since, she said.

To help her parents while they take care of her brother, Newitt started a fundraiser Oct. 31 selling T-shirts.

Although Fisher House provides a room for them, the family has to pay the day-to-day living and transportation costs, she said.

“I want to make sure our family is able to take care of Zachary and everything that he needs without having to have the constant stress about whether they have the ability to do it (financially),” Newitt said.

The first goal for Newitt is to sell at least 50 T-shirts so the company she is working with will begin printing them. She has set up the website https://www.bonfirefunds.com/prayers-for-zach to sell the T-shirts.

Eventually she wants to raise at least $2,000 to help her parents with their costs. She is also planning another fundraiser in her hometown of Lafayette, La., to raise further funds for her family and also for the Fisher House and the Wounded Warriors Project, two organizations that have helped her family while they take care of Parker.

Newitt said she is raising money for the organizations because she doesn’t think it’s fair that families have to sacrifice care for their wounded soldiers because they don’t have the financial means to be there for them.

And she wants to make sure her parents can take care of her brother.

“They have to be there (for) Zachary,” she said.

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