Supporting wounded soldiers - Tucson Local Media: News

Supporting wounded soldiers

Brother’s war experience inspires local fundraiser

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Posted: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 3:00 am

In April of last year, Marcia Hay traveled to California to see her brother, Philip McCulloch Jr., return to the United States after being deployed in Afghanistan with the United States Marine Corps. While serving in Afghanistan, the vehicle Sgt. “Mac” McCulloch was riding in was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade.

It happened on Oct. 10, while he was in a mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle. The RPG came in a window and went through his headrest but did not detonate. He took shrapnel to his shoulder, back and back of his head. On another occasion his leg was grazed by machine gun fire.

The injuries he suffered while in Afghanistan weren’t significant enough to warrant him returning to the states.

Others in his unit, the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, nicknamed “Darkhorse,” were not so lucky. Those returning with missing arms, legs and sometimes both, had a long road to recovery — recovery that was assisted by the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project’s mission is to honor and empower wounded soldiers. The project does this by providing family support, combat stress recovery, clothing and essentials, assistance with transitioning into the workforce, and many other services.

For Hay, all she needed to hear about were the wounds that were suffered in her brother’s unit alone to impact her family’s life and inspire her to get involved with the Wounded Warrior Project.

“I thought we really needed to give back to this organization because they are going to help these guys through their surgeries, and after their surgeries to live as normal of a life as they can,” she said.

Upon her brother’s return to the States, Hay recalled seeing one Marine who lost his leg and was in the hospital recovering. All of the medical staff and doctors told him it would be best for him not to leave the hospital. Hay said there wasn’t much that could keep that Marine from seeing his fellow Marines come home.

“When we saw him on the Parade Deck, and he saw my brother, he stood up out of his wheelchair as if he had two legs — no problem,” Hay said. “The spirit he had with him — he was just so happy.

“That man and my brother just hugged each other and cried together. To see a young man coming home as an amputee and have that high of spirits…is defiantly life changing,” she noted.

This life changing experience has motivated Hay to put together a benefit concert and gathering to support the Wounded Warrior Project.

This Saturday, Aug. 20, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Picture Rocks Fire Station, 7341 N. Sandario Road, people can hear live music, win raffle items, and enjoy food and beverages all while supporting the nonprofit organization.

“I have been planning this for several months and people are just pouring out their generosity to help the Wounded Warrior Project,” Hay said “And that makes me feel really good because the military is very near and dear to my heart.”

McCulloch, who is currently station at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California, is really pleased his sister is organizing the event and gaining the attention and support for the Wounded Warrior Project.

He supports the organization 100 percent because it gets soldiers back on their feet and sometimes gets them back serving in the military.

Without the organization, McCulloch thinks some of his fellow marines would be “drugged up and depressed.”

“They help with the physical activities. When you are wounded, you need to still get up and move around,” McCulloch said. “They help with your mind, by keeping the stress off when you are injured. They assign you a caseworker, they take you to your appointments and get you any medicine you might need.”

For more information about the organization, visit

If you go

What: Wounded Warrior Project

benefit event

When: Saturday, Aug. 20,

11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: Picture Rocks Fire Station,

7341 N. Sandario Road

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