Conn. auction to raise funds for disabled Iraq war vet
The Hartford (Conn.) Courant
Manchester, Conn., town leaders are working with a nonprofit organization to renovate a home for a local Iraq War veteran who survived four bomb attacks and is disabled.
Sandra Lee, 36, suffers from traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. Purple Heart Homes representatives have been speaking with General Manager Scott Shanley, Mayor Leo Diana and other officials about fixing up a home for Lee, a U.S. Army veteran.
A fundraising auction is slated for Oct. 13 at Manchester Community College, Purple Heart Homes spokeswoman Vicki Thomas said Monday. The organization is seeking donations from residents and local businesses for the auction. The renovation will cost about $70,000, Thomas said.
"We need readers to help us obtain treasures from their homes that can be donated for WDRC announcer Brad Davis to auction off," Thomas wrote in a news release. "We need Manchester businesses to donate goods and services to help us raise funds so the town of Manchester and Purple Heart Homes can renovate a home to meet the disability needs of Sandra Lee."
Lee served in the Army from 2002-09 and left the service as a staff sergeant. She joined the military after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, because she felt "compelled to serve her country to be a part of history to ensure that the U.S. would never experience an attack on our soil again," according to a news release.
Lee deployed to Iraq in December 2003, the release said. During that time, she was helping to rebuild schools in western Baghdad, where she served as the liaison between local councils, military and international organizations and the Iraq Ministry of Education. She was responsible for hiring contractors for each school. In addition, she worked on projects that included providing veterinary services to farm animals in outlying neighborhoods.
"Lee was on her way to speak with a local council about schools that needed refurbishing when the vehicle she was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb," the release said. "She experienced a concussion."
Lee recovered, but was involved in three other IED explosions. Each time, her concussion grew more serious.
Lee, who is classified as "80 percent service-connected disabled," suffers from severe PTSD that includes short-term memory problems, constant headaches, vertigo, debilitating nightmares and depression, according to the release from Purple Heart Homes.
The native of Portland, Ore., has a bachelor's degree in international relations and social services and a minor in music from Portland University. Now living in an apartment in Manchester, Lee is attending Manchester Community College and working on her master's degree in holistic health. She wants to help other injured veterans with PTSD, Thomas said.
Purple Heart Homes was founded in 2008 by wounded Iraq veterans Dale Beatty and John Gallina. In 2004, the two two were hit by an anti-tank mine that left Beatty a double amputee below the knees and Gallina with severe head and back injuries. Both suffer from PTSD and TBI.
Purple Heart Homes has three current projects in Connecticut — one in Canton for a Vietnam veteran; one in Norwich for a female veteran; and the project in Manchester for Sandra Lee. The group recently completed a home in Glastonbury for an injured Marine.
Distributed by MCT Information Services