When a suicide bomber attacked Jonathan Thomas’ unit during a 2008 deployment to Afghanistan, the Army National Guardsman took the full force of the blast. This act saved the lives of everyone in the area but left him with a severe spinal injury and peripheral damage in his right eye. For those and other wounds, Thomas received two Purple Hearts. And, for his act of valor, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Eventually, Thomas started a family and adapted to life in Fort Benning, Georgia, where he became a marksmanship instructor. Unfortunately, he would face a different kind of battle when he was diagnosed with cancer, unexpectedly ending his 16-year military career.
In 2018, the family moved to South Carolina, where Thomas continued his service to others in his community with a focus on helping children with disabilities. In this same spirit of selflessness, several DAV members volunteered their time through the TV program “Military Makeover with Montel,” which offers hope and a helping hand to those who have served in our military and their loved ones. Together, the makeover team and DAV members worked to create a more accommodating home for the Thomas family, including refinishing the bathrooms, refurbishing their kitchen and providing new furniture.
“We all enjoyed helping this combat-wounded veteran and his family,” said Roxann James, senior vice commander of the DAV Department of South Carolina. “As a disabled veteran myself, and part of the organization, we’re always looking for opportunities to help other veterans.”
DAV Ambassador CeCe Mazyck also joined “Military Makeover with Montel” host Art Edmonds to invite Thomas to participate in the 2023 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado.
“Jonathan and I could relate as veterans who were both injured during active duty,” said Mazyck. “But we also share a love for adventure. The winter sports clinic is the perfect place to meet other veterans, connect on a deeper level and enjoy some outdoor fun.”
“DAV is honored to have our volunteers serve Jonathan and his family and assist in his continued recovery through our rehabilitative programs,” said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. “Whether we are working on a veteran’s home improvement project or sponsoring events like the winter sports clinic, it’s humbling to serve those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.”
Watch the Thomas family episode of “Military Makeover with Montel” on Lifetime or at dav.org/militarymakeover after it airs.