AMERICAN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
UTM is proud to have been a sustaining member of the American Freedom Foundation since 2011 – actively participating in and sponsoring AFF Job Fairs, events, concerts and proudly donating much needed funds to an organization that truly goes above and beyond to help our service veterans.
AFF PURPOSE – Increase American support for Veterans, acttive duty military service members and their families through public awareness campaigns and grant making programs.
AFF MISSION – Honor our Veterans and the men and women of America’s armed forces, raise awareness for their service and sacrifice and provide grants that support their long-term well-being.
AFF VISION – Aspire to be a premier grant making organization for Veterans, active duty military service members and their families.
AFF HISTORY – Co-founded in 2004 by SMA (R) Jack L. Tilley, 12th Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army and Ted Hacker, music business executive.
The story of Keepher and Michael began when a retired Army officer who volunteered for the Wounded
Warrior Project reached out to one of their donors, UTM and asked if they might be able to help or
know of someone who could help:
“As we discussed Wednesday, below is Michael’s Profile from his wife. His spouse and court appointed care giver has run into numerous roadblocks while trying to obtain another trained Service Dog to assist her in caring for Michael while she works. I know Michael personally and have spent a great deal of time with him over the past six months through my volunteer work with the Wounded Warrior Project. There is no doubt in my mind a Service Dog is a critical and essential for his daily living needs. His Traumatic Brain Injury severely limits his short term memory. He has a service dog in which is beyond its effective age for service and can no longer support him. He received this service dog through a charitable organization that no longer offers the program. His current Service Dog ‘Puggles’ has reached the unfortunate age where it is difficult for the dog to maneuver in and out of vehicles and up and down stairs!
Any assistance through your networks you can provide would be greatly appreciated. The tasks of the Service Dog are listed below most essential is the carrier vest containing the notification alarm and medications. Thanks!!”
MAJ, US Army Retired
After reading Michael’s profile, executives at UTM went on the hunt to find the perfect match for Michael. After searching high and low, they found a black labrador puppy named Precious Keepher, who was perfect. They purchased the puppy and through their contacts at the American Freedom Foundation found a service dog trainer who volunteered their time to train Keepher specifically for Michael’s needs. Once Keepher was fully trained and a certified service dog, she was united with her new owner and life long companion, Michael. Not long aeer the two were brought together, UTM received the letter here from the family – reaffirming that just making a small effort to give to those in need is the ultimate gift.
Michael was deployed with the US Air Force in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. While deployed, he served as the Munitions Accountability Officer and First Sergeant for his unit. On November 30, 2003, his unit came under a mortar aback. Michael was wounded during this aback and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), vision loss in one eye, hearing loss in both ears, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result of his TBI, his short term memory, cognitive thinking, and balance has been greatly affected and this hinders his independent mobility. After Michael’s return and years of medical retirement, it was determined he was unable to care for himself. He was placed in the Independent Living Program due to his physical and cognitive injuries. Peggy , his spouse, has been appointed as his primary caregiver and is responsible for all of his daily living needs and finances. Michael continues to undergo treatment for his injuries and is required to make numerous doctors appointments a month. As part of his intensive treatment, he is currently prescribed anti-.‐Alzheimer’s medication to assist with symptoms directly related to his TBI. It is extremely difficult for him to remember what he does on a daily basis and he requires constant supervision. Simple day to day activities such as carrying and tracking his medication are severely limited due to short term memory loss and balance issues. He is required to wear braces to support his legs, arms, and hands for his balance and day to day functions.
Michael’s current service dog has reached the age of retirement and can no longer meet his needs. Michael is in need of a Service Dog with the following abilities that will greatly enhance his quality of life:
The Service Dog would offer him the support needed to get back up if he falls, it would provide a safe location for his needed items, and give him the constant companion to help calm him down in stressful situations. It is extremely hard for Michael to go to public places with many people around. The Service Dog would allow him something to focus on when in crowded areas and also act as a buffer between him and people he may not know or be aware of. Most importantly, a Service Dog would allow him the ability to get out and travel and not be home bound. A Service Dog with a tracking device would allow Michael to be more mobile and capable of doing more activities outside of the home. Michael enjoys playing golf and being able to take his Service Dog with his needed items would provide him a freedom he has not experienced in many years. He is at a crucial point in his recovery and the companionship/freedom he will receive from having a Service Dog may prevent him from regressing
Once Deryn Blackwell’s story began to circulate, UTM employee’s quickly swung into action and donated to the help the Blackwell family. We are thrilled at his progress and understand that the family has now established a trust after the overwhelming response and donations, to continue helping others battle against and find a cure for Leukaemia.
Deryn Blackwell is just 14 years old yet he has been fighting Cancer for almost 4 years. In 2010, Deryn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and just 18 months later and whilst still on active Chemotherapy – Deryn was diagnosed with an extremely rare Cancer called Langerhans Cell Sarcoma.
There have been as few as 50 cases of LCS documented since records began and Deryn is believed to have been the youngest of the 5 people currently alive with the disease worldwide. To make Deryn rarer still, he was thought to be the ONLY ONE in the entire world to be fighting Langerhans Cell Sarcoma and Leukaemia together. Please read more one Deryn’s story at the link below.
We believe that its important to participate and give back to our communities, customers and their families. It’s also just the right thing to do.