Bill Wade left the United States Marine Corps more than 40 years ago, after serving in Vietnam. Now 67, he and his wife Edie have built a good life in Hampton, GA. But, when their lives suddenly changed back in August, the Wades learned something really important: they're not alone.
Right now, the Wades are a family divided. Edie Wade is a patient at HealthSouth's Newnan rehabilitation hospital, trying to come back from devastating injuries.
"I'm up to 51 steps on the walker," Edie says, "The therapy is intensive. and it's 3 hours a day."
Miles away in Hampton, surrounded by friends, Bill Wade is also healing, and waiting for Edie to come home. They married 44 years ago, when Bill was a young U.S. Marine, fresh out of Vietnam.
Together, they raised three girls, now grown. But on August 10, 2014, their life together almost ended, on a sharp curve not far from their home. Riding home from dinner with friends on Bill's three-wheeled motorcycle, they hit gravel, swerved into some trees, and were thrown from the bike.
"(I) remember the owners of the house coming out and checking on us, calling 911," recalls Edie.
Bill, had broken leg and ankle. Edie's injuries were much more severe. She'd fractured 12 ribs, broken a leg, both arms, her collarbone and her pelvis.
"When I went into the hospital, I was given a 10% chance of making it," she says.
With both Wades badly injured, their church family and members of the American Legion Post 258 in Jonesboro kicked into action. Michael Womack says they knew the Wades would need help getting back into their home, so they built them a wheelchair ramp.
"It was just out of the blue," Edie Wade says. "They came one day and started work on it, without, without asking."
Womack says this was a chance for the American Legion to help a vet.
"That's why it's there. You served your time, we want to help out," he says.
Edie, who's been in the hospital for three months now, has only seen photos of the new ramp, but it's inspired her.
"It makes me want to go out afterwards, when I am well, and give that to others, there are veterans often overlooked. And they shouldn't be," Wade says.
It's been almost 50 years, since Bill Wade earned his stripes in Vietnam. But, once a Marine, always a Marine. And on Veterans Day, Bill Wade is grateful for vets who give back, and for the vets who gave everything.
"There are vets that gave you the rights to say anything you want. And they died for those rights," Bill Wade says. On this Veteran's Day, I just want to say to everybody, just take a vet and say, "Thank you for your service."