gomez_fullWe live in a great Community and Joel Gomez is an important part of it. Joel Gomez’s story is at the heart of how the West Suburban Foundation for Disabled Veterans came into existence.

The son of immagrant parents, Joel Gomez did not take the American Dream for granted. He fought for it. After highschool at Wheaton-Warrenville South in Illinois, he joined the United States Army and later went off to serve in Iraq. In March 2004, his tank crashed in the Tigris River, and Sergeant Gomez was paralyzed from the neck down. Gomez, who will never walk again, assumed that after treatment he would go back to his little basement apartment in Wheaton, just another forgotten casualty of war.

His hometown saw it otherwise. This 24-year-old native son deserved better—and he was going to get it. Michelle Senatore, a civic volunteer in Wheaton, spearheaded a campaign to raise money to build a big house for Gomez, a place that would be state-of-the-art for the disabled. Senatore, the daughter of a Vietnam vet who faced disdain when he came home from that war, vowed, “I’m not going to let that happen to Joel.” The house-building dream would cost $400,000, a seemingly tall task, and require a massive amount of donated labor. “If everyone works together in just a little way,” said Senatore, “things can happen.”

Download the full article about Joel Gomez as seen in Newsweek (PDF)

Are you a disabled veteran, a soldier on active duty, or know one? WSFDV would love to tell the world about your service to our country by featuring you on our site. Please contact us to share your story.