LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami proclaimed Thursday to be Bill Essary Day when the Pennsylvania veteran touched down at the Lihu‘e Airport.
Essary and his family arrived for a two-week Vacations for Warriors stay on Kaua‘i, and were welcomed by a host of dignitaries, including the mayor’s representative Kaleo Carvalho, the governor’s liaison Carrice Gardner, Michelle Emura of the Kaua‘i Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, Bart Thomas, Lyn Aylward-Bingman, and Kaua‘i Veterans Council Commander Mary Kay Hertog who worked the family through the airport checkout process.
“We extend our gratitude to Bill Essary for serving our country and sacrificing for our freedom,” Kawakami said in the announcement. “We are honored that he has chosen our beautiful island of Kaua‘i to visit and enjoy. We thank the generosity of the many businesses here on Kaua‘i, and the many individuals for making this trip a dream come true for Bill.”
Essary is a medically retired Army Specialist and former member of the 82nd Airborne Division.
“Bill is the definition of a Warrior to me, and our family,” said Trish Essary, Bill’s spouse, in a letter to Vacations for Warriors.
Joining the Army in 2001 as the nation suffered through the 9/11 attack, Essary was deployed to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2003.
“When he got back, he suffered, and continues to suffer from PTSD, hearing loss, shoulder and back damage,” Trish said. “Less than a year later, Bill was on a training mission when a fellow soldier hit him with a pickup truck doing 70 mph. Bill was on foot when he was hit and the truck took his left leg, shattered both bones in both arms, broke his back, made his PTSD significantly worse, caused memory loss, and numerous other injuries. Following extensive surgeries and physical therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bill continued his service until being medically retired.”
“I truly believe that he is a Warrior because not only did he fight for our country, he said he would do it all over again,” Trish said. “To this day, he still wants to defend our freedom.”
Although Bill has a very positive outlook on life and is very active, there is an underlying amount of pain he goes through on a daily basis.
“Most days, his PTSD interferes with his daily activities such as crowds,” Trish said. “He suffers from hyper alertness where crowds make him feel on edge and cause irritability. His brain is always on overdrive causing him to not be able to sleep well at night. He suffers from night terrors and is always in pain. Never a day goes by that he is not in pain.”
The Essary family will be here as a dream come true for daughter Hailey who always dreamed of visiting Hawai‘i, and a place to make the family “that much stronger.”
Source: The Garden Island