Army Homefront Fund Aids Hamel's Recovery
Chief Warrant Officer Daryl Hamel knows better than most the sacrifices of military service (in photo far left [ARMY PHOTO]). In addition to his own injury in Iraq, Hamel suffered the death of his cousin and fellow soldier, Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger. Both were stationed at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009, and Sergeant Krueger fell to the gunman’s bullet when Major Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage that day. Hamel was on base, 10 blocks away when it happened.
"It was an emotional roller coaster for me," Hamel told a local reporter at the time. "It was a hard fence to border as a professional but also as a family member."
Hamel had made his own sacrifice five years earlier, while stationed near Tikrit. In 2004 he was supervising the construction of airfields – not combat duty, but in the combat zone. He was part of a convoy riding toward Tikrit in a personnel carrier when it was hit by an improvised explosive device and attacked by insurgents.
“I fell on my head and crushed my vertebrae,” Hamel says. “My shoulders dislocated.” Despite his severe injuries, within three weeks he was back on duty at the airfield, wearing a series of braces to support his shattered upper body.
Hamel is today stationed at the Army Aviation Center in Fort Rucker, Alabama, but the rehabilitation and the surgeries continue. He often travels to Georgia for treatment, which puts a strain on his budget.
It was one of these surgeries that led to Hamel’s current financial hardship. He was on convalescent leave when he was incorrectly reported AWOL. As a result, he wasn’t paid for over a month and a half. “Now I’m in the process of recovering that money, going in front of general officers to explain what happened.”
After a divorce, Hamel was already close to the edge in his finances, and the interruption in pay pushed him over. “What was I going to do? My power and water were cut off, and I had to pay the rent.”
Hamel went to his AW2 Advocate, who referred him to the Army Homefront Fund
and Operation Homefront
. With his power and electricity only one hour away from being turned off, Operation Homefront coordinated with city hall, utility agencies, and the sheriff’s department to prevent the disconnect from happening. Operation Homefront’s staff was able to reach both the water and electric companies after hours to restore Hamel’s services immediately. In addition, he received food aid and rent assistance to get him through the crisis.
The Army Homefront Fund continues working with Hamel to get his finances back in order. He’s nearing retirement, and wants to become and advocate for wounded soldiers like him.
“I want to recover from these injuries for a little while. I’ve been volunteering with the Wounded Warrior Project. Soldiers have touched my life, and they made me who I am today.”