Video: Convention brightens veterans' spirits

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/15/2006 7:14:02 PM ET 2006-12-16T00:14:02

With more than 23,000 Americans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, many are having a hard time readjusting to life back home. To support some of them, a convention is under way in Orlando, where wounded veterans can be with others who understand.

Wounded in war, thousands of Americans now face the rest of their lives with difficulties they could never imagine.

John Adams suffered a brain injury in Iraq, affecting his speech, and is sometimes painfully misunderstood.

"Some people think I'm drunk, or I'm sleepy, or there's something wrong with me," Adams says.

Thomas Green suffered a crushed pelvis in Iraq, but some have assumed he was injured in a gang fight.

"What was the point of trying to go on or recover if you're going to face this every time you walk out the door?" Green asks.

But, in a place where everyone is accepted, more than a hundred injured war veterans are helping each other at a convention sponsored by the Coalition to Salute American Heroes.

Along with the injured war vets, their families also suffer — emotionally, and quite often financially. The coalition tries to help them, too, with job and benefits counseling.

Adams' wife, Summer,had to quit her job to be with her wounded husband and their children.

"It was a big amount of stress on you, because you don't know what to do," she says.

But, the most important benefit here is inspirational. For paralyzed vet Eugene Simpson, the conference gave him a chance to prove he is still strong.

On an artificial rock wall, he used just his arms to begin the upward climb. With support from his parents and the crowd, Simpson slowly made it to the top.

He proved he could do it. To everyone there. And to himself.

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