THIS United States Marine Veteran Is Fighting For His Life… He Needs Our Help!

~ACOMP86

My fellow patriots, this is Dean James at America’s Freedom Fighters. We don’t ask much from you but we are asking you to read this and if you find it in your hearts to help out then that would be awesome. I will put the link at the bottom of the article if you do choose to help out this veteran. Thank you and God Bless.

Summary-

Ralph Chester III is a 49 year old disabled United States Marine who lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with his beloved wife, 3 kids, 3 dogs and cat. While stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, he was poisoned by the base’s contaminated water supply, which the government and military had known about for decades but yet chose to do nothing about it. As a result, Ralph is a disabled Veteran who can no longer work, and has endured congestive heart failure, a mitral valve rupture, an aortic aneurysm, end stage renal failure, a kidney transplant, 2 strokes, type 2 diabetes, neuropathy, the placing of 6 stents, C.diff and now disseminated histoplasmosis, pulmonary edema, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and heart conditions that will likely require open heart surgery to replace his repaired mitral valve once he has recovered enough to survive the operation. He has been in ICU (first in Northwest Indiana, now in Indianapolis) since 9/9, is on life support (a ventilator), and has been in and out of medically-induced comas. On 10/3 and 10/5, he had cardiac events that caused his lungs to fill with fluid and his brain to be seriously deprived of oxygen for over an hour and a half. These events would have killed him, or at least resulted in irreversible brain damage, if not for God and the 20 people working on him. Read on for an explanation of unmet financial needs prompting this fundraising campaign.

~ACHESTER1

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Explanation of Unmet Financial Needs
Our family is struggling with serious financial difficulties due to this situation and his month-long hospitalization in June. Sarah (who is the sole source of income in their household currently) has used most of her paid time off of work, and will soon have to use FMLA, which is unpaid, in order to be with him and present to make medical decisions on his behalf. They have unpaid medical bills, debt from Ralph’s period of unemployment, legal expenses, travel expenses related to being downstate during this past month, and soon the cost of regular living expenses with nothing more than Ralph’s meager VA disability check each month. These financial needs are the reason behind the creation of this page. Ralph and Sarah have always earned their way in this world, and have sacrificed everything to provide for their family, as well as others who have been in need. Anything that you can afford to spare, even if it is $5.00, would make a positive difference in their lives as we work together to get them through this. Also, we ask that you please pray for us, and Ralph especially. Thank you for your kindness, love, faithfulness, and generous support during our family’s greatest time of need. Thank you for caring!

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Read on for the “longer version” of Ralph’s story, which is the kind of strength, endurance and fortitude only found in United States Marines, as well as more information about the financial needs that prompted his family to create this page.

Ralph’s Story:

Ralph and his wife, Sarah, were married in January 1986. He left for boot camp in February 1986 and was stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, where Sarah gave birth to Cassie later that year. Ralph did 2 med floats overseas and served as an MP before eventually being stationed in Oil City, PA, where he served as a recruiter until he eventually left the service and returned to Valparaiso, IN to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. By the time he graduated (not only at the top of his class, but with highest honors), he had 3 children between the ages of 2 and 11 years old. He then moved his family to Fort Wayne, IN after taking his first engineering job at Navistar International, which gave him the experience that he needed to land what he thought was his dream job at Urschel Laboratories in Valparaiso 4 years later.

Fast forward to January 2005. Ralph was 39 years old. His oldest, Cassie, had graduated from high school and was attending her freshman year of college downstate. His middle child, Jacob, was in 7th grade, and his youngest, Sami, was halfway through elementary school. Ralph and Sarah hadn’t taken a vacation by themselves since their honeymoon, during which they got in the car and went as far as the money they had would take them, which turned out to be Toledo, OH. Twenty years later, they were long overdue for a romantic weekend alone and decided to splurge on a short trip to Las Vegas. No one was prepared for what happened next.

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Ralph fell ill with what he and Sarah thought was pneumonia during their mini vacation. By God’s grace, they wound up at the only hospital in Vegas that was in their network, and learned that he did not have pneumonia. Rather, he had congestive heart failure, end stage renal (kidney) failure, a ruptured mitral valve, and hypertension. The doctors told Sarah that if they had even gotten to the hospital 30 minutes later, Ralph would have died.

A few weeks later, when he was stable enough to travel and once Sarah could find an airline that was willing to transport him (shout out to Delta!), Ralph was taken to Northwestern in Chicago, where he underwent open heart surgery to repair his ruptured mitral valve. Aside from the anesthesia not working as well as it should have, the operation went smoothly. He came home after a couple of more weeks and his family will never forget what he looked like when he walked through the front door. He was pale, skeletal, connected to oxygen and supported by a family member on each side. He battled depression as he came to terms with the irreversible changes with his body and way of life.

Soon came the hunt for a kidney, as his were failing and he needed a transplant. Why were his kidneys failing? Well that’s an interesting question with an appalling answer. Remember how he was stationed at Camp LeJeune during his service in the Marine Corps? It turns out that, for DECADES, a nearby laundromat had been dumping toxic waste into a stream that fed the base’s water supply, and for DECADES, the government and military thwarted various individual’s attempts to address the problem. Due to the government’s and military’s heinous negligence, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, employees, their families and offspring suffer and will continue to suffer from a gamut of disabilities, defects and diseases.

Within the next year, Ralph’s brother, Greg, was identified as a match to donate a kidney to him, and they underwent the transplant operation at Clarion Health in Indianapolis, which is now IU Health. Years later, Sarah noticed a small article in the newspaper about the water contamination scandal at Camp LeJeune, prompting her and Ralph to investigate the matter, apply for and be granted 60% service-connected disability status and the corresponding benefits through Veterans Affairs. You would think that the entities responsible for poisoning him would have, at the very least, contacted him (even sending a letter) to let him know about it, but no. They did not.

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He was offered Social Security disability payments for 2 years after the transplant operation but decided not to accept it, feeling as though he was capable of working and like he did not want to inappropriately take advantage of government programs and services. He continued to work at Urschel Laboratories and over time, had 2 strokes, had 6 stents put in around his heart, and was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.

After a while, his health had worn on him to the point that he did not feel he could continue his work and he started looking for a less strenuous job that still allowed him to utilize his engineering talents. His job hunt was difficult and took longer than expected, and he wound up out of work for 2 years. Since then, our family has come together and made every effort to help them rebound from that financial crisis, but fell short.

Fortunately, or so we thought at the time, he landed a position at a small manufacturer in Northwest Indiana as the company’s sole mechanical engineer. His first couple of months of employment there went well. The work was challenging and he enjoyed the people that he worked for and with. Then he started feeling exhausted by the end of the work day, needing to nap in the recliner all night at home before going to bed. Soon his body was requiring naps in his car during his lunch hour. After a few more weeks, he was having to call in sick frequently and felt that he had no choice but to resign, as he was too weak and ill to work.

Then he stopped eating. He stopped sleeping. He had night terrors when he did fall asleep. He was too weak to get to and from the bathroom or bed himself. When he could eat or take his medications, nothing stayed down. No one could figure out what was wrong, but some of us became afraid that this might be “the end.”

On June 15th, the day after his 49th birthday, we were able to get him admitted to the hospital. He was put in a quarantined room, because they suspected that he might have tuberculosis. After a couple of weeks, though, they finally were able to diagnose him with C.Diff and a rare lung disease called Disseminated Histoplasmosis. The spores causing this disease are prevalent in the Ohio River Valley and Midwest, but transplant and AIDS patients, or others with suppressed immune systems, are the only people who typically contract an infection.

After about a month and nearly dying, Ralph was discharged and sent home. He still had a Pik line in his arm and had to do daily IV transfusions at home, as well as weekly fluid and blood transfusions at the hospital, for months. Later in the summer, he was switched from IV antifungal medications to an oral version. While he was no longer in imminent danger, he never got back to a point where he wasn’t tired and feeling crummy. He’d applied for Social Security disability a couple of years back and was declined, so he started working with an attorney to apply again.

On 9/8, Ralph went to the ER with what they thought was pneumonia, which the hospital diagnosed and were planning to give him medication to take from home. Thankfully, his pulmonary specialist happened to be there and insisted that he be admitted. On 9/9, his fever spiked up and he started having rigors, so he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He had Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a very life threatening condition that immunosuppressed patients with histoplasmosis are at risk for. It turns out that the oral antifungal medication was not absorbing into his system because of a gastrointestinal medication he was also on, and no one caught it. For days, his oxygen saturation got worse and worse and his health worsened to the point that he had to be put into a medically-induced coma and onto life support (a ventilator) on 9/11.

We spent the next week praying, talking to him while he was in the coma, and clinging to every shred of information, looking for the silver lining wherever we could. By 9/18, the hospital had decided that his condition wasn’t worsening but it wasn’t improving either, and it should have been by that point. They told us that he needed to be in the care of IU Health, formerly Clarion Health (where he had his kidney transplant done), in Indianapolis. We prayed that a bed would open up in their ICU and it did. We prayed that the insurance would approve the transport and transfer, and they did. We prayed that he would be safely moved, and he was, via ambulance, after some hiccups before they got on the road. Off he went, in a coma, on life support, to a place that was three hours away, when he didn’t know he was going and we had zero time to figure out the logistics of our family going and staying down there.

Since being at IU Health, he’s been brought out of and put back into the induced coma several times, been extubated and reintubated several times, and nearly died several times. Two of these incidences, which cause his heart rate to skyrocket while his oxygen saturation plummets to dangerously low levels and his lungs fill with fluid (pulmonary edema), have been in the last 3 days. They have now determined that there is a problem with his heart, although they haven’t figured out what it is exactly yet. Between these two events, his brain has been deprived of oxygen for an hour and 40 minutes and by some miracle, he hasn’t had any noticeable brain damage.

Tomorrow will be Day 30 of this horrible experience. Sarah has used most of her paid time off of work, and will soon have to use FMLA, which is unpaid, in order to be down in Indianapolis. As the sole source of income in their household at the moment, this will cause more financial problems on top of the ones that they already had from the past 6 months. They have unpaid medical bills, debt from Ralph’s period of unemployment, legal expenses, travel expenses related to being downstate during this past month, and soon the cost of regular living expenses with nothing more than Ralph’s meager VA disability check each month.

These financial needs are the reason behind the creation of this page. Ralph and Sarah have always earned their way in this world, and have sacrificed everything to provide for their family and help others who have been in need. Anything that you can afford to spare, even if it is $5.00, would make a positive difference in their lives as we work together to get them through this thing. I would also like to ask you to please pray for us all, and Ralph especially. Thank you for your kindness, love, faithfulness, and generous support during our family’s greatest time of need.

XOXO

Here is the link to help this veteran out. Thank you. Dean James III%

CLICK HERE!

Fundraiser Updates 1

Posted on October 8, 2015 by Cassandra Boehlke
Hey everyone!

We are overwhelmed with gratitude for your rapid, incredibly generous response to this fundraising campaign! In only 24 hours, you’ve raised $5,430 for Ralph and Sarah Chester and shared this campaign via social media 702 times! Please continue to pray, share the link, and encourage your friends, colleagues and family who are able to donate $10 or $20 to do so. Every dollar is making a massive difference in their lives and we are more thankful that I can even express with words.

Ralph is resting comfortably today and his vitals are holding steady. His O2 on the ventilator is set to 60% right now, which is much better than the 95-100% it was set at a few days ago when he last crashed. They are focusing on the heart at the moment, as the histoplasmosis seems to be under control and slowly dissipating.

His cardiologist is Dr. Richard Kovacs, who, among his many other accomplishments and areas of expertise, co-chairs the group that oversees the cardiovascular evaluation of NFL draftees.

As you read on this page, Ralph had congestive heart failure and a mitral valve repair ten years ago, when he was 39 years old. When that surgery was done at Northwestern, the surgeon discovered an infection that he’d never seen before inside the valve. No explanation was ever given, but it was speculated that he might have contracted it from a camel spider bite when he was serving in the Marines overseas.

The repaired valve is no longer functioning properly, possibly because of that infection, but definitely because of scarring and calcium deposits that have accumulated over the years. There are 2 flaps and 1 of them is not “flapping” as it should, meaning that blood is not moving through the heart properly. This valve malfunction in combination with his heart being in AFib is the reason behind the crashes he’s been experiencing and barely surviving.

As soon as a bed opens up at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, which is still part of the IU Health system, he will be transferred there. We are told that they have a better technology and expertise in critical care for cardiac patients, and given that Ralph is one of the most complex cases that his current ICU doctors have ever seen, our family is fully in favor of getting him into the best hands possible for these latest developments in his health situation.

In other news, the hole in his throat from the tracheostomy is healing and they’ve been able to move him down from a size 8 tube to a size 6 tube, which will help minimize the bleeding. Once he gets to Methodist, they will be doing a Transesophageal Endocardiography (TEE) test, which will allow them to see the full extent of the scarring inside of the heart valve.

If his cardiac situation is not worse than they currently suspect it to be, the plan will be to stabilize him enough to go to an acute care facility, where he will spend a month working on getting off of life support and building his strength, before meeting with the cardiologists again to determine when he will have his heart valve replaced. That is the best case scenario right now. There are many other possible scenarios depending on what the cardiologist finds during the TEE test, so please keep praying and thank you again for all of your love and support!!

-Cassie B. (oldest daughter)

Again, here is the link to help this veteran out. Thank you.

CLICK HERE!

AMERICA’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS has the best patriots in the country on our team (all of you!) and we hope you can help out this wonderful veteran anyway you can. We have checked and verified all of the information and it is 100% legitimate. We thank you for being with us! GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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