Kim Broesch describes her husband Jerry’s military career as the “craziest 20 years,” when she combines his time serving with both the Marine Corps and Army.
“I was young and bulletproof,” Jerry said. “I had always wanted to be a Marine – it was the toughest thing there was to be.”
Their daughter, Bella, 18, points out that her dad may have felt bullet proof, but he certainly wasn’t injury proof.
Bella was only 18 months old when her father deployed for just as many months in 2004, where he was involved in an accident that caused injury to his brain.
“He wasn’t the same person who left,” said Kim, adding that their older children quickly picked up on the difference in their father, while Bella didn’t have concrete memories of what her dad was like before the deployment.
In 2008, Jerry was deployed to the Middle East again.
“I told him, ‘As long as you don’t come home in a box, I don’t care how you come home,’” Kim said. “Well, he came home in a wheelchair this time and I was ok with that.”
Jerry had sustained an injury to his knee and broke his neck and back while serving on a mission with the Army.
Despite the many surgeries he’s had and lifelong medical injuries he will have that stem from his service to our country, Jerry said he loved serving in the military and would go back in a heartbeat if he could.
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The Broesch family, of Idaho, heard about the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat through a friend, applied and was accepted in 2019. They loved it so much, they spent another week at the retreat in June 2021
“It’s nice not having to explain what it’s like. They just know,” said Bella, about being with other families who have a father or mother who have sustained injuries while in service to their country.
“Other people say they get it, but don’t get it – the effects from his brain injury, not being able to physically do certain things,” she added.
Kim enjoyed spending time with Jerry and Bella – the trip this summer would be their last before Bella went off to college.
“It was nice to just hang out in our room at night, talk about the day, or what we would be doing the next day – it’s so relaxed, it feels like you’re at home,” Kim said.
They also connected with the other families at the retreat.
“The families all clicked, we all went to each activity together as a big group,” Kim said.
All three also appreciated that if they wanted down time, they weren’t forced to participate in activities – if they wanted to relax together as a family, they were welcomed to do that.
“By Wednesday, that jet lag is a killer,” Bella said, laughing.
Jet lag aside, Bella and her parents said from the beginning to the end, their experiences at the Foundation are ones they cherish. Kim particularly liked having the cooking and cleaning taken care of, she said, laughing.
“It was all fantastic,” Bella added.
The Travis Mills Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports post-911 veterans who experienced life changing injuries while in service to our country. We offer our nation’s recalibrated veterans and their families a week-long, barrier free, all expenses paid experience at our world-class retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. We offer various programs that help these brave men and women overcome physical and emotional obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation.