This week we're in Jamesville, North Carolina to meet the Cooper family. To say that Jeff Cooper is an American hero might be a bit of an understatement. He served in the US Army as a Combat Medic in "Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm." During that time, he earned two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Humanitarians Service Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) Army Service Ribbon, a Combat Medical Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge Expert Rifle Badge and Expert Grenade Badge.
Like so many of his fellow soldiers who served in the first Gulf War, Jeff Cooper came home with more than just medals. He also came home suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. Gulf War syndrome is an illness reported by combat veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf War typified by symptoms including immune system disorders. In Jeff's case, he is suffering from a number of symptoms including MS. Jeff is now confined to a wheelchair and suffering in pain.
However, he is living proof that you can't keep a good man down. If Jeff can no longer fight for his country, he is determined to fight for his countrymen. In 2003 he was named North Carolina's Disabled Veteran of the year. So we're here this week to make a difference, give him his freedom back, we're going to build a home that's worthy of an American hero.
This week I'm taking care of Jeff's office and a memorial garden and there's a lot of history there so I want to get it right. I took a trip to a local civil war museum to look into his lineage. He has family members who fought in the civil war. I'm going to find out everything I can about it and hopefully bring some memorabilia back. This week I've really learned that it's important to keep family history alive and Jeff's history is rich in that. And I'm doing my part to find out about his lineage, to find out about his ancestors who have fought in all the different wars. It's all about courage, honor and service to our country.
We were lucky to have a great builder, John Norris from Edenton builders. It was great to see him and his crew marching down the street like soldiers. It was great they had flags waving in the air it was pretty cool that they knew that we were here to honor a hero. John was the perfect match for this family, being a graduate of the Citadel.
This week's been all about American heroes, men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom. It's also about the family members who stay at home and support their family members who are fighting for us. When I look at Jeff I see a, a man who's only 45 years old, but he's struggling. I'm just hope we were able to make a difference this week, to give him a little freedom, give him mobility, and give him that opportunity to dance with his wife again.