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Community pulls together to help a wounded warrior

Community pulls together to help a wounded warrior

Community pulls together to help a wounded warrior

Capt. Hamilton Kinard Jr., right, pos...

An outpouring of community care and support was shown to a wounded warrior and his family Sunday evening at the Olive Garden restaurant in Statesboro.

A free meal was served to the family while the staff waited on them. The family was completely surprised and amazed that so many people had worked feverishly on this event to honor them.

According to Jennifer Neal, the staffing and training manager, Olive Garden reaches out each year by honoring local veterans on Veterans Day.

This year, the honoree was Capt. Hamilton Kinard Jr., of Claxton. Kinard and his family recently relocated to Claxton from Lexington, S.C., where a home was repaired and supplied for them by Purple Heart Homes.

Neal said she and other employees worked tirelessly for more than a week to honor Kinard.

"When we heard about the plight of this particular vet, we were overwhelmed by what he had been through in Iraq," Neal said. "We have had a wonderful time in working together with our staff members to honor this vet and his family."

Kinard earned the Purple Heart medal and numerous others during his stint in Iraq from July 2004 to September 2005. While on night patrol with convoy security, Kinard and his platoon were returning to the base in Baghdad when an enemy-armed 155 round exploded, throwing Kinard 50 feet from his vehicle. He landed on his head and suffered severe brain injuries, back damage and other physical injuries. Kinard received a concussion and woke up three days later in the Baghdad base hospital.

Kinard was hospitalized for nearly two months before requesting a return to his platoon. He was granted permission to return, but continued suffering from severe migraines and backaches.

Two employees, Kaysie Smith and Courtney Johnson, called businesses and individuals in the area and asked for donations of all types for the family. They said they were dumbfounded at the outpouring of area citizens for this project.

"It's crazy how generous people are," Johnson said. "We told them what the situation was, and they were all as generous as possible. We had a blast putting this event together."

Kaysie Smith said that it was simply fate that she was able to meet and talk one day with the Kinard's wife, Britnee. Smith had no doubts that she had chosen the right family for the honor.

Kinard retired from the Army in 2010, but continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I'm getting better," he said. "I have some good days and some bad days. There are days that I limp and others where I crawl. Some days I smile, and some days I cry."

Kinard continues to suffer from nerve and spinal damage and keeps a routine with the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Savannah for treatments. He was recently given a Great Pyrenees dog, named Gunner, to help him become more mobile. An organization in Brunswick,, gave Kinard the trained dog. They have helped numerous people, including wounded warriors and children with disabilities, become more self-sufficient.

The Kinards have two children, Maks, 1, and Blayne, 3. Blayne has been diagnosed with autism. Both boys received numerous toys and gifts following the evening meal.

"It's a wonderful thing the community has done for one of its own who suffered so much in Iraq for our freedom," said Rob Hane, the Olive Garden general manager. "We are pleased to have hosted this event and will continue to do so in the future."

Thirty-four area businesses and individuals gave to the Kinard family.


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