CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Independence Fund and the state of North Carolina celebrate the 2nd annual Wounded Heroes Day in honor of U.S. Army SGT Michael Verardo and all of the state’s wounded Veterans. In April 2021, Governor Cooper signed House Bill 138/Senate Bill 132 following unanimous and bipartisan consent from the North Carolina General Assembly designating every April 24th as Wounded Heroes Day. Wounded Heroes Day honors SGT Verardo’s Alive Day, or the day that he survived catastrophic, life-altering combat injuries in Afghanistan.
“We know that the state of North Carolina is the country’s most patriotic and supportive state to Veterans and their families. The celebration of Wounded Heroes Day is an important milestone for our state’s community of wounded Veterans,” says Sarah Verardo, CEO of The Independence Fund. “The trajectory of life for my family was forever changed on April 24, 2010, and Wounded Heroes Day is a significant way we can honor the sacrifices of so many of our local friends and neighbors who have experienced the same.”
Since April 24th, 2010, SGT Verardo has endured 120 surgeries along with years of speech, visual, physical, and occupational therapies. Verardo, like so many other catastrophically wounded, injured, and ill Veterans, brought the scars of war back home. Wounded Veterans like Verardo continue their displays of courage and resilience as they overcome new challenges and obstacles.
“Our wounded Veterans fought for our freedom and safety both here and abroad,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “We owe a deep debt of gratitude to SGT Verardo and all the other North Carolinians who’ve made selfless sacrifices to protect us.”
The Independence Fund and NC General Assembly Members, led by Representative David Willis, acknowledges that when a service member returns home with life changing injuries, the entire family absorbs the sacrifice and adjusts life to care for the wounded Veteran.
Speaker of the House Tim Moore said, “A year ago, the legislature recognized April 24th as Wounded Heroes Day, and this week we are honored to celebrate North Carolina’s second annual Wounded Heroes Day. Home to some of the finest military installations in the country, North Carolina produces our nation’s frontline war heroes.”
He continued, “Nearly 750,000 Veterans call North Carolina home, and more than 155,000 of those Veterans have a disability incurred in service to our nation. We owe them a great debt that could never be repaid. The date of April 24th honors Union County’s Sgt. Michael Verardo who endured life-changing injuries in Afghanistan on April 24, 2010. To Sgt. Verardo, and all of North Carolina’s wounded heroes, we will do all we can to honor and support you and your families. We thank you for your service and sacrifice.”
Wounded Heroes Day will be celebrated across the state with cities lighting monuments in red, white and blue. Notably, the Governor’s Executive Mansion in Raleigh will be lit from Friday, April 22 – Monday, April 25 in observance of the day, and lights throughout Uptown Charlotte will shine their patriotic best on April 24 as a reminder that our state will continue standing for and honoring the legacy of wounded heroes in North Carolina.
Please contact Caroline Arey at [email protected] or 704.608.8770 for questions.
ABOUT SGT. MICHAEL VERARDO:
Retired Army SGT. Michael Verardo served as an Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne until his medical retirement in 2013. He deployed with Bravo Company, 2-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment to conduct combat operations in August 2009. Wounded initially on April 10, 2010, Michael requested to be returned to duty and was wounded on his first foot patrol just two weeks later. This patrol had catastrophic and life-changing consequences. The improvised explosive device immediately blew off Michael’s left leg, much of his left arm, left him with burns over 35% of his body, a traumatic brain injury, severe facial damage, damage to his airways, and other polytraumatic conditions that required a field blood transfusion.
On April 24, 2019, Mike’s ninth alive day, he had his 120th surgery post-Afghanistan. His condition has required years of physical, occupational, speech, and visual therapies. Originally listed as death imminent post injury, Michael has continued to defy the odds, and has gone on to enjoy adaptive athletics, most notably competitive pistol shooting, and is an active participant in his church and community in North Carolina.
ABOUT THE INDEPENDENCE FUND:
Founded in 2007, The Independence Fund (501c3) is committed to empowering our nation’s catastrophically wounded, injured, or ill Veterans and their caregivers. The Independence Fund strives to bridge the gap of unmet needs for Veterans and their families through tangible programs. The Independence Fund believes in fairness and equality for all Veterans and families irrespective of race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, and will continue to uphold these American values.
Caroline Arey, Strategic Messaging Director
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SOURCE The Independence Fund