Local vets benefit from singer's fund

November 27, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The holidays are among the toughest times of the year for members of the military - from those serving overseas and the wounded here at home. On Thursday, veterans at the V.A. in Palo Alto got a morale boost from one of their own, who is a rising music star.

Four years ago today, Stephen Cochran was just like the vets he's entertaining, spending Thanksgiving in a V.A. hospital - a casualty of war. He had turned down a record deal and dropped out of college compelled to join the marines after 9/11. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Last mission to Kandahar I broke my back in six places. I was a paraplegic, they told me I would never walk again," said Stephen Cochran, marine veteran.

The doctors were wrong and today the 29-year-old is a rising country music star, but the scars of war remain - including post traumatic stress disorder.

"Nobody is talking about post traumatic stress. It's a disease we don't talk about - that we keep hidden, but the fact is I'm losing more friends to suicide than I am to the war," said Cochran.

Music has been his therapy and Cochran is trying to help others with his non-profit called the Independence Fund.

Whether that's independence from PTSD, we'll get you therapy. If you need ramps for your house, we'll get ramps put on," said Cochran.

The fund gave Iraq War vet Joshua Lindsay an iBOT mobility system. No ordinary wheelchair, it has four-wheel drive, can hop five inch curbs, even climb stairs.

"I'm on eye level with people - I don't feel like I have to look up at you - it's a different respect thing. It gives you back your pride," said Lindsay.

These iBOTs cost $30,000 each. Stephen Cochran's organization has purchased 16 so far this year and is constantly raising money for more.

"It's a wonderful idea and a wonderful thing he's doing," said Gene Kmuth, Korean War vet.


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