Presidential Citizens Medal 2011 – Michelle McIntyre-Brewer

Michelle McIntyre-Brewer:
Soldier’s List was
founded in 2003. And it was a result of my eighth
grade students wanting to make a difference with the wars
and after September 11th. And so, we started
sending care packages. And it was an extremely popular
project to the point where we couldn’t afford to keep it
going unless we came up with a different way to
handle the situation. So we started to ask specific
organizations and churches; anybody in the community who
would like to join us to send care packages to soldiers who
were being referred to us. So over time, it just got bigger
and bigger and in 2005 I gave birth to my daughter and my son. My son passed away and my
daughter was born missing half of her heart and so she needed
to have immediate heart surgery. And that experience
changed our entire family. We got home from her second
hospitalization and Hurricane Katrina hit. And so, I was sitting there with
my daughter and we watched TV and there was this woman
standing there with her two year-old son who had just had a
transplant and all of their meds had washed away. I was sitting there thinking,
I can just let this boy die. So I got in touch with as many
people as I could and within 48 hours we had moved 23 of the
children from the Gulf Coast region up north in order
to get medical care. And after that
happened; naturally, the National Guard was aware of
what was going on because they were down there and then they
were being sent overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan and alerting me
about children who needed care — who seem to have some kind of
congenital or at birth issue. And so I started working with
them to be able to get those kids the health care that
they needed and that spread, because than word
got out about that. And military families started
coming — asking me about tri-care and how to
navigate the medical system, and how my husband — my
daughter is having surgery — how can I get my husband home? You know, taking real issues
that were extremely urgent and trying to advocate for them. And that turned into an
international effort as well, because then I started getting
world aid advocacies — getting in touch with me about children
who were sick and trying to find families for them. So now I heavily advocate and
try to match families that are appropriate with acute
special needs children; especially in the military
community because most military don’t realize they can adopt. In fact, they have tried to make
it so that we have an easier time adopting. I was such an advocate that we
ended up adopting one of the kids that the file
was sent to me. And so, I love what I do. We have spent probably at
this point right around 16,000 care packages to soldiers
who are deployed all over the world that does not exclusively
mean Iraq/Afghanistan it also includes Korea and Kosova and
anywhere else that soldiers need our assistance. And we are also heavily involved
in the community with the medical information and we have
served about 21,160 families with acute medical
issues up to this point. So I love what I do. The first time I knew that we
were making a difference was when one of our soldiers came
back from Afghanistan and he wanted to talk to the children,
because he wanted to educate the children and have them
understand how much it meant to him to have them send
care packages over to him while he was gone. And he came in and he talked
to those kids and he showed pictures of camels and he showed
pictures of mountains and of heat and of snow and of
everything that we don’t know about the Middle East. And he made it real and he made
it come alive for the children just as much as the children
made life come alive for him. And that’s when I knew that
this was going to be good. The first time with one of our
patients that I was working with was a family that was a military
family and they just found out that their child had a very life
threatening heart disorder. I was in the hospital with my
daughter and she was having some issues but I went over to
them and I asked them if they were okay. We were on stage two — we
were on our second open heart, so we were old
hats at this point. And so, I just wanted to bring
them comfort and they knew nothing about what
their rights were. They didn’t know how they were
going to navigate the system. And the wife was actually the
active duty service member. She was worried about going back
to work and I sat down with her and went through everything,
and explained it to her, and clarified what she
could and couldn’t do, and that we were
going to help her, and she just collapsed into
tears and her husband did too; right over the
baby’s bassinette, which is just kind of like a
tray because they just leave them out. And I knew that Lorelei’s Fight
was going to be worth something.

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