skip navigation

Stories of Salute Veterans

Rocky's Story

Rocky Loera - Husband, father, triathlete and officer in the US Marine Corps. He has served honorably and survived four deployments in Iraq/Afghanistan. Upon his return Rocky worked enthusiastically as a Marine Recruiter stationed in Chicago. On January 29th, 2013 he was leading his platoon of recruits on a training run.  After safely guiding them across the street he was struck by a car that ran a red light. While the recruits were all safe, Rocky suffered a traumatic brain injury. He has endured at least 14 surgical procedures including craniotomies, bilateral cranioplasty, and implantation/removal of various shunts, drains and tubes.  His surgeons say that his very survival is a miracle.  After a year at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Loyola, Rocky has returned home where he continues his recovery.

While Rocky bravely fights to recover, his wife Brenda carries the huge responsibility of acting as his primary caregiver and mother to their 9 and 11 year-old sons. Although the military covers the majority of Rocky’s medical care there are many family and personal needs and expenses which need to be met. SALUTE, INC has “adopted “ the Loera family and will be helping to meet their needs. Please be generous as this year we “RUN for ROCKY”.

Home for the holidays...

Dear Salute Client Advocate,

On behalf of my family and I, we would like to thank you and Salute Inc. for your financial assistance towards the rental of our new home. Your commitment to helping veterans in need (like myself), is greatly appreciated.
We are now settling into our new home just in time for the holidays, and my kids are super-excited! This could not be done without Salute Inc. and the people like you, that volunteer for the organization. Thank you all again, GOD Bless, and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

The Heards


Taking time to listen...

Dear Salute,

I want to take a moment to write you to thank you and the amazing people involved in your organization for the assistance you have been able to provide my family, and more importantly, taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen!

It was such a RELIEF to have someone to speak to that really understands what I am going through and make me feel like, for once, I'm not alone!
When you called and told me Salute, Inc. would be paying our mortgage this month, a HUGE wave of relief overcame me. Every muscle that had been tense in my body from the stresses of financial strain (and everything else) finally relaxed! I told my husband the good news and almost broke into tears. The level of generosity and kindness you have shown us is second to none!
Without the help of Salute, Inc., I'm not sure how much longer my family would have made it before we would have to go into foreclosure on our home. Your commitment to helping veterans and their families is greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten! God bless you and all those that support your cause! There is a special place in heaven for angels like you!

A Grateful Family

January 2014

Here is the quick summary of what you and your organization have done for a veteran I work with. Just thought you should know!"
"A veteran I work with has been struggling with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for some time. This struggle caused the veteran to lose jobs and put him in a very bad financial situation, so  much so that he wasn’t able to maintain stable housing. As a result of the money that was given to the veteran from your organization for rent and a security deposit, the veteran moved out of a homeless shelter and into an apartment. These funds allowed this veteran to believe that it was possible for him to succeed in finding a job as he could now take time to focus on employment rather than worrying about having a place to stay each night. This veteran came in to check in with me today and when asked how the holidays were, he told me that they were great. He then stated with a smile that he has noticed that he has begun to laugh again which he says he hasn’t done for a long time. I just wanted you to know what the end result of your assistance means to these veterans. On behalf of the veteran, thank you for all you do for the veterans.”


OEF/OIF/OND  Case Manager VA Medical Center


 Sergeant Dan Tsutsumi served as a Marine for eight years with two tours of duty in Iraq. He achieved the rank of E5 Sergeant and received numerous medals and ribbons during his service. During his deployment, he lost five close friends from his battalion that grieved him deeply. After his honorable discharge, he returned home from the war diagnosed with PTSD. Since his discharge, he had been attending classes at NIU and worked part time at the campus Veterans Affairs office.

In June 2012 while swimming in Lake Michigan, he experienced a freak accident and injury to his spine leaving him in a quadriplegic condition. For the past four months since the accident, Dan was hospitalized and received intense rehabilitation treatments at RIC (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago). Dan has recently been transferred to Hines Veterans Hospital in Maywood Illinois for continued therapy and rehabilitation. There is a long road ahead for Dan and his family, for after his in-patient care is over, he will continue his therapy treatments on an outpatient basis for the next couple of years. Upon release form the hospital, Dan will be residing with his parents in their home.

This accident has put a huge financial challenge on his parents who are both retired. Their retirement is now on hold as they take on the responsibility and become Dan's sole caregivers. There are many challenges ahead, including the renovation of their home, which is not handicapped accessible. We are in the process of  retrofitting and renovating the first floor to make it possible for Dan to be part of everyday living with his family.
We are involving community and local businesses as much as possible to help provide an opportunity to transition Dan successfully into his local community and provide the tools he will need to be as independent as possible.  Removing the physical barriers that prevent him from participating with family and friends in his home is the first step in achieving this. 
We cannot do it alone but together we can make a difference in the lives of the Tsutsumi family.