Saturday, November 12, 2011

Through Dangers Untold

When my brother was a little boy, all he could dream about was joining the army. He began watching stirring war films like To Hell and Back and The Longest Day. He built models of WWII warships and jeeps in full-out dioramas with fake plastic trees and battling soldiers. By the time he was 17, he knew that he wanted an army career, that the Army was the way to a better life, one that was filled with hard work, honor and glory. In the year 1989 David Krasner joined the United States Army as an enlisted man and with that one action, his family’s life changed forever.

He served in Operation Desert Storm, with some of the first combat scenes he saw that of desert, heat and gunshots, fighting alongside young men like himself. Buoyed by travel and seeing distant lands for the first time, his excitement was soon dimmed by the harsh realities of war. He saw his friends and fellow soldiers killed and wounded while all around him was violence, marked by periods of dubious calm. His dedication and duty never wavered but the war going on around him brought him forcefully and suddenly into adulthood. While he fought on the other side of the world, his parents Charles and Bethlyn and sisters wrote and called him as often as they could. As a family we became involved in soldier’s outreach programs, joining support groups for the men and women fighting abroad and getting politicians to join the cause, including Mayor Ray Flynn and Senator John Kerry.  When the War ended David came home, changed and battle scarred. He immediately reenlisted.

After spending years in the Army, working his way up the ranks, Krasner left the Army after being stationed in far flung places as Germany, Panama and South America. He met and started a family with his wife Maritza Cooper-Krasner. They now have three children together.  David signed up for the US Army Reserves to serve his country and keep closer to home.  He always wanted to have a foothold in the service that he had loved and honored all his life, yet it was difficult to be stationed abroad while his wife and young children were separated by such great distances. We as a family grew closer and dealt with failing health and mental disorders, some brought on by the stress of what we as a family unit had endured. Our faith and belief in David never faltered and we were both saddened yet relieved when he became a reservist. 

When he came home, David used his training and schooling, becoming a leading IT professional and started his own IT consulting firm, Expetec, now operating in New Orleans, LA. He has been mentioned in various news stories about veterans and their challenges on the homefront. In 2004 everything changed. David was called into active duty to Iraq with little more than four days notice. As a family we were devastated. His youngest daughter was only a year old and his wife became a single parent as David was sent off once again to foreign lands. Due to exposure to chemicals and heat and the stress of his situation, David suffered a respiratory attack causing a cardiac arrest.  His brand new business was struggling and now had to close while he served over seas due to the fact that he didn’t have the time or funding to hire someone to cover for him while he was away. There were not enough support services for his family to deal with his departure, both emotionally and financially.

A Bloomberg Businessweek article by Jeffrey Gangemi spelled out the problems that David and his family were facingjust six months after Krasner's deployment to Iraq, severe health problems forced him home in September 2005. Because he could barely breathe or walk, he didn't get started rebuilding his business until three months later, when he reopened it.”

"We lost everything," says Krasner. "Now we owe everyone and their brother, and my credit is horrible. It absolutely killed us." Because of his credit problems, Krasner says he couldn't get a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), nor did he qualify for other government programs. The franchise is now slowly getting back on its feet, he says.”

David came home to fight a new war, one that was for his family’s survival. Over the course of three years the business once again began to grow. As part of his wish to expand and get out of debt, David and his family moved to Louisiana, where they have prospered, but there is still much to be done. While he doesn’t regret one day of his service, there needs to be more support for the soldiers and their families so that they can serve without worry that their very livelihoods may be adversely affected. On this Veterans Day, I will be thinking of my brother and all the other veterans who have given their blood, sweat and tears to protect and serve their country, We can and must do more to help them in their times of need.

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