Hugo proudly served as a soldier in the United States Army and deployed to Iraq in 2004 to serve his country. Upon arriving to Baquba, Iraq, as a member of the 1st Infantry Division, also known as the “Big Red One,” they immediately took on responsibilities that included security patrolling, VIP escort duty and guard watch. On June 21, 2004, Hugo’s patrol was ambushed and he was shot, once in the back and once in the arm. Seriously injured, Hugo found himself near a buried explosive, which detonated. The shrapnel that hit him caused significant traumatic brain injury, irreparable damage to his right eye and severe damage to his left eye. The split-second decisions made in the operating room are what Hugo credits with his being alive today.
Hugo’s long road to recovery began. Immediately, he began to suffer from post-traumatic epilepsy with debilitating seizures. The post-traumatic stress creeped into his life and that of his family, but he knew early on that his family was one of the best supporting tools to his recovery.
Hugo’s new “normal” seemed anything but normal. Sitting in traffic, eating, walking and even work had become a daily struggle, and at times he wanted to give up. He fell behind on family finances and suffered significantly while waiting for disability pay to begin.
When his situation turned desperate and he was about to lose his home, Hugo called on a CFC-supported organization to see if and how they could help his family. That was in 2004 – the organization came through and Hugo’s been a star member ever since.
“This organization realized that this was not a situation that a Band-Aid could fix. My wife was my caregiver and she had to care for me with my injuries, and our children, so they offered me a position with [their] program. This program has allowed me to provide for my family, made me feel productive, and … enabled me to go forward with my personal road to recovery. I’ve never fallen behind on my mortgage since this organization came to help me and joining the [organization’s] program has given me the ability to work and set goals for myself and our team, and we proudly hit them every month.”