Wounded veteran gets standing ovation for service at Livonia benefit

A look at struggles of some of Michigan's wounded warriors


LIVONIA, Mich. – David Denhardt got a standing ovation for his service at a benefit Friday night in Livonia, but not many people outside military families truly understand what a returning solider with life-altering injuries is facing.

Denhardt left for Afghanistan and two months into his tour was wounded in a rocket attack; thrown 90 feet into the air, he landed on his head and now has a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and a whole host of physical ailments. And no, he doesn't regret his service.

"Not at all. I wish I could stay in," Denhardt said.

His road home, like that of so many others, has been a hard one. It's not just securing medical services, although that is an exercise in patience on a good day, but navigating the massive bureaucracy to qualify for government benefits.

For example, the government wouldn't pay for his service dog, a yellow Lab he's named Tank.

"She'll help pull the wheelchair if I'm having difficulties and struggling," Denhardt said. "I fall quite often and she helps me get up. She can even get the phone for me."

Tank was a $15,000 bill. Without the help of several nonprofits, Denhardt and his family would be financially devastated.

Keller Williams Realtors and others are hosting a fundraiser for the family Wednesday at the Disabled American Veterans Building at 47326 Dequindre Road in Shelby Township.

The nonprofit community, like the Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund, has been trying to bridge the gap in what the government provides wounded soldiers, whether it's rides to the VA Hospital, help getting a mortgage or finding a lawyer if legal help is needed.

If you'd like more information on the benefit for the Denhardt family, call 586-994-9494.

About the Author: