“A Warriors Wish” comes true for Texas veteran

Army Sergeant First Class Vaitogi Taetuli enjoys spending time outdoors working in his yard. But due to injuries sustained while serving in the military this pastime was often difficult to achieve. Now, thanks to Hope For The Warriors and its “A Warrior’s Wish” program, Taetuli can enjoy his hobby once more with the addition of a new Poulan Pro 42-inch 19-hp. riding lawnmower.

Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family and hope to service members, their families, and families of the fallen. Its first established program, A Warrior’s Wish, honors the goals and desires of severely wounded service members, veterans, and their families.

In addition to working and taking pride on his own yard, Taetuli enjoys volunteering in his Killeen community and at his church assisting with landscape upkeep.

“This riding lawnmower means a great deal to my wife and I and will immensely impact my recovery from my injuries and assisting with transitioning to civilian life. I will offer service to my church community and all the people who need help with their lawn,” said Taetuli.

“It is like a blessing from God and a dream come true. I am very delighted to receive such an amazing gift. I would like to express my heartfelt sincere thanks and appreciations to the Hope For The Warrior’s and its A Warrior’s Wish program for making my wish a reality,” added Taetuli.

The father of three enlisted in the United States Army in 2000 and was assigned to Fort Hood. In 2002, he deployed to South Korea and in 2004 deployed to Camp Taji, Iraq. While in Iraq in the battle of Najaf, he fought the enemy in a hand-to-hand combat causing the insurgent to drop his armed hand grenade resulting in a blast that severely wounded Taetuli. He was flown to and treated in the Navy medical tent in Babylon, Baghdad and then to the Baghdad Combat Support Hospital for shrapnel wounds to his left eye, right-side of his face, left forearm, right leg and foot. Later, Taetuli was medically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then to Wilford Regional Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base to undergo surgery to his left eye.

After substantial rehabilitation, in 2005 Taetuli reported back to his unit at Fort Hood and prepared to deploy to South Korea in 2006 and again in 2008, to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. After serving in the United States Army for 16 years, he temporarily medically retired in 2016 and permanently medically retired February 18, 2018.

“Army Sergeant First Class Vaitogi Taetuli honorably and courageously served his county for 16 years,” said Robin Kelleher, president and CEO of Hope For The Warriors. “Today, he still serves through his work in his community and at his church. Hope For The Warriors is honored to assist him in the continuation of his service through his A Warrior’s Wish of a riding lawnmower.”

In 2018, 20 wishes will be granted through Hope For The Warriors. The wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for gratifying endeavors for those who have sustained severe physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

Since the program’s inception, A Warrior’s Wish has granted 184 wishes.

For sponsorship and volunteer opportunities for the A Warrior’s Wish program, contact Chrystal Keilers at ckeilers@hopeforthewarriors.org or 832-776-9379.

For more information on Hope For The Warriors and A Warrior’s Wish, visit hopeforthewarriors.org

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