By Chief Fred Maas….
Every Thanksgiving Season for the past several years, I have written articles for our community newspaper. This year is no exception, but then, yes… it is an exception, because this year for me it is an EXCEPTIONAL story. It is about ONE remarkable human being who represents an entire GROUP of remarkable human beings.
By way of Elaine Adler and the Aventura Marketing Council (AMC), Vice Mayor Lew Thaler of our city, contacted me about a program to help and to thank some of our Wounded War Veterans who had returned home from war and might need some well -deserved assistance.
It seems that a contingent of generous, caring and grateful business persons from the Dania Beach Design District consolidated their efforts to provide some “room makeovers and renovations” to the homes of several specially selected wounded veterans. Herein begins the story.
I immediately thought of Army Veteran Jason Recio. Jason’s life dream was to become a police officer. However, while in service to his country and in combat in Iraq, Jason was severely wounded as parts of both legs were blown away, rendering him incapacitated.
Jason returned home to his wife and two children. His dream of supporting his family as a police officer was now shattered; or at least many would think so. Well, you haven’t met a SOLDIER. You haven’t met Jason Recio.
Fully determined to overcome his injury, overcome his disability and reach his goal, Jason focused on recovery and rehabilitation so that someday, he would pass the physical exam and fitness for duty in order to wear the Badge.
I will not even attempt to describe the story of his pain, the suffering, and the setbacks he went thru on his road to recovery. I would rather tell of the courage, determination, acceptance and humility this man portrayed during that time. All with his eye on the one goal, one prize.
With the help of support braces for his legs in the affected muscle areas, Jason proved to even the most disbelieving that he was able to perform and pass the physical agility tests required to become a police officer. AND HE DID!
Today, Officer Jason Recio is a Coral Gables police officer, serving in uniform patrol, proudly and with dedication and service to his country and now his community, for several years. Jason and his wife are also expecting their third child shortly. They are a FAMILY of GRATITUDE and LOVE, to be sure.
So why is this story different from others about heroic soldiers? Well, when Jason was contacted about being selected for this very benevolent gesture by local businessmen, he asked to speak to me personally. I learned then that Jason was very appreciative of the honor and they sure could use the help but he was reluctant to accept it because there were many others who DESERVED it more. Can you say HUMILITY? Unbelievable, I thought. After all this man has done, and has been thru and the sacrifices he made and the efforts and struggles to accomplish his dream.
The fact that his life was changed forever by war, in defense of his country! And he feels that others DESERVE it more? Well, no one who knows him was surprised by his response. Jason even cited examples of other soldiers and military he felt could use the help more. “That’s Jason!” was the constant refrain when I told people of his reluctance to be honored and recognized.
Fortunately, for all of us, in spite of his reluctance and self denial, WE ALL insisted and Jason caved in. More for his family than himself, I am sure. With a new baby on the way, a 3rd child, who couldn’t use some help?
Jason Recio, Army Veteran, Wounded Warrior, will be recognized on Saturday, November 5, 2011 for the Tribute to Veterans Military Room Makeover Program at the Dania Beach Design District at Noon, by those who just wanted to say “Thank You” for what you do and what you did for our country and for us.
Jason will be among 7 others similarly recognized, each one with their own special story. But for me, I couldn’t think of a better or more deserving “Thanksgiving Story.” A story about a soldier, who almost died in service to his country for you and me and still has the HUMILITY to say “Thanks, but give it to someone else please”.
Happy Thanksgiving Jason and family and to ALL military officers who serve and have served. There is no Thanksgiving table large enough to hold our love and gratitude for you.