North Texas

Denton FEMA Teams Up to Help Veteran with Disabilities

A simple gesture by some federal employees in Denton could go a long way in helping a North Texas veteran who served 13 years in the military.

On Wednesday, employees at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Region 6 headquarters teamed up with Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine and the A Million Thanks organization to present a fishing kayak to Staff Sergeant Joshua Ives.

The Houston native lives near Lake Palestine, where he says his relaxing days on the lake have yielded few fish from the shore lines.

The donors wanted to see that change for the Army veteran though, as they say he deserves the relaxation these days.

Ives started Army boot camp on Sept. 11, 2001.

"One of the drill sergeants came out and said, 'Gentlemen, our country's under attack,'" Ives recalled.

From that point on, Ives served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next 13 years, over which time he says he was involved in about nine explosions.

The final one, in Afghanistan, was a blast from an improvised explosive device that left him with serious trauma to his body and disabilities.

Ives said the physical scars are accompanied by deep mental ones as well from the things he had to witness in the infantry and the friends he lost.

That's where the local groups came into Ives story.

For some time, the Denton FEMA employees have been writing to the troops and through the A Million Thanks foundation.

Founded by California native Shauna Fleming when she was just in high school, A Million Thanks sends letters and well wishes from folks across the U.S. to military men and women as a showing of support, and they also try to grant wishes for veterans like Ives.

"When we grant these wishes they're really quality of life wishes," said Fleming, "so, family vacations or outfitting a home for accessibility."

Or, in Ives case, his wish was a boat to help him relax and recover from a career at war.

So the groups coordinated with Bass Pro Shops, which donated a fishing kayak and later invited Ives to a fisherman's shopping spree at its Grapevine store.

Ives said it was an amazing gift and said it's the little things and even small showings of gratitude that mean the most to many veterans like him.

FEMA Region 6 plans to keep working with A Million Thanks, and the organization encourages others to get involved or send well wishes to the troops as well through its website.

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