Archive for Saturday, May 3, 2008

Injured vet accepts Dole honor

Soldier lost 3 limbs during war in Iraq

May 3, 2008

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Matt Lammers

Matt Lammers served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman, one in 2004 and one in 2007. He was injured both times, but on his second tour he lost his left arm and both legs from an explosive. He earned a Purple Heart for his service and on Friday he earned a special honor from former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.

Life's struggles can turn into the most meaningful life lessons.

U.S. Army Sgt. Matt Lammers, 26, had been one of his dad's "best teachers," said Gary Lammers, a high school principal in Olathe.

Matt Lammers served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman, one in 2004 and one in 2007. He was injured both times, but on his second tour he lost his left arm and both legs from an explosive. He earned a Purple Heart for his service and on Friday he earned a special honor from former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.

Lammers, who has been undergoing physical therapy and adjusting to life with prosthetics, was chosen by Dole to accept the first-ever Bob Dole Humanitarian Award for serving people with disabilities.

Gary Lammers was at the Dole Institute of Politics Friday with his wife, Barbara, to watch their son accept the award on behalf of Dole, a man who has emphasized the importance of caring for wounded war veterans and others with disabilities. Dole was injured in World War II and helped create the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

To mark Dole's accomplishments in helping people with disabilities, Kansas University's department of special education created the award for him in conjunction with the department's 50th anniversary. Dole was unable to attend the event, but when asked if there was a person who could accept the award for him, he thought of Lammers, said Chriss Walther-Thomas, department chair.

Dole had contacted Lammers when he was in the hospital, Lammers said. Dole even started a fund named after him.

"It's been an honor because I feel like I haven't done much," Lammers said. "I'm just another soldier, there are so many of us that are injured. We don't see ourselves as being any greater or better than anybody else; we're just doing our job."

Matt Lammers was accompanied by friend and fellow soldier James Orlowski, who has suffered a back injury and who emphasized that he and Lammers are just two of hundreds who have been injured.

Dole and Lammers share the struggles of being injured soldiers, but that's not all.

"We're both Kansas boys and vets, so it's a big honor," Lammers said.

Eighty people were in attendance for the reception ceremony and dinner. Ed Meyen, special education professor, said he interviewed Dole last week and shared a video of the interview at the ceremony. The award presented was a bronze sculpture of six hands interlocked to signify the importance of collaboration and teamwork. The piece was created by Gary Lee Price from Utah. One statue will stay at KU to add subsequent recipients, and a smaller version will be given to Dole.

Barbara Lammers, an early childhood special education teacher in Gardner, said there are more lessons to be learned from people with disabilities and she was hopeful the award would help remind people of that.

"We can learn a lot from them," she said. "Whether it's like Matt with physical disabilities, emotional or learning disabilities, they've got a lot to teach us and we've learned a lot from Matt, all along."

Comments

Charles L Bloss Jr 7 years ago

Bob Dole is my greatest hero! Thank you, Lynn

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