November 10. 2013 8:56PM

Injured veterans humbled by public recognition of their service

New Hampshire Union Leader


That the country sets aside a specific day each November to recognize the sacrifices made by veterans is a humbling honor, two New Hampshire veterans said.

“Veterans Day means everything to me,” said Gregory McCrady of Merrimack, who served a tour with the U.S. Army in the Iraq War in 2004 before severely injuring his back in an accident. “It's soldiers who give us the rights that we have in this country.”Among the many celebrations and services that will be held today statewide, McCrady plans to attend a barbecue at the Hooksett Vet Center.McCrady, 41, was on his gun truck when he fell onto a welding machine, fracturing three vertebrae. He is now medically retired, he said.

He said the holiday also helps him remember a fallen friend, Jeremiah Holmes.For Sean Carrier of Penacook, the holiday is something he respects, but he said he has been treated with warmth and respect throughout the year by people since returning from Iraq in 2006 after suffering severe injuries. For example, he said, he was recently at a Dunkin' Donuts and had his coffee paid for by someone who said they noticed that his license plate said he was a veteran.“That makes me feel good, you know what I mean?” he said.

Carrier, 40, said he was involved in several improvised explosive device attacks and a mortar attack — “I've been blown up a few times,” he said — before his military career was ended when he suffered a spine injury while on an aircraft that had a “hard landing.”He left the Army in 2008 and after a period of recovery from his injuries, he worked for a while for the Veterans Administration, but said he is now “100 percent disabled” and can't work.

“My body is shutting down,” he said. “Everything hurts. I'm in constant pain.”He said he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that he copes with through group therapy sessions that he said is helpful because of the shared experiences.“You get other vets who can relate to what you're going through,” he said. “We're trying to deal with what we went through that haunts us to this day. I've gone many nights without sleep.

“You've just got to take it one day at a time,” he said.He said he may attend a ceremony that will be held today at the Boscawen Cemetery.“It all depends on how I feel,” he said.

Veterans Day began as a recognition of the armistice at the eleventh hour on Nov. 11, 1918, which saw the end of armed combat in World War I. Originally called Armistice Day, its name was changed to Veterans Day on June 1, 1954, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs