Brytain Geary was a US Army soldier stationed at Fort Hood, TX when he found out he had a brain tumor. He and his wife Marla, who worked for the Post Exchange on base, have a six month old daughter, Madilyn. Brytian has a dog, named Chief who was supplied to him through America’s Vet Dogs. Chief has lived with him for a year and alerts Brytian of on-coming seizures that he suffers as a side effect of the brain tumor.
It has been a tough financial road for the Geary’s since his illness. Brytian was medically discharged from the Army and has medical bills that exceeded the Tri-Care cap. The military told them to save up at least 3 months’ worth of expenses to live on after he was medically separated from the Army but it was 6 months before they began getting his retirement pay. During that time they lived with family but even with their families help the medical bills were overwhelming them. They voluntarily let one of their vehicles go back to the dealer and continued to pay on the medical bills.
The heat in Texas had a negative effect on Brytain’s health due to the metal plates attached to his skull during his brain surgery. Needing a better climate and wanting a good place to raise Madilyn, they decided to move. Knowing that they would need to be near a Veteran’s Medical Facility and wanting to be closer to Marla’s older daughter, who lives in Michigan, they chose Springfield, Missouri as their new home. It took all of their savings to move to Springfield, and when they rented a house it was without a refrigerator or stove. Upon moving in, a gas leak was discovered in the house so they had to eat out for a few weeks while they waited for the landlord to fix the leak. Now their savings was gone and Brytian was not yet getting his medical retirement pay from the Army while still waiting on VA disability pay to begin.
In March, 2012, Brytian called USAA to ask for help with their finances and was referred to the American Red Cross for help. After calling the Red Cross, Military Casework Volunteer, Dawn Tomoson, helped them out with a local grant for service members that could be used for a stove and refrigerator. The gas leak had finally been fixed so when Dawn found the used appliances at C&C Appliance, Brytian and Marla were able to cook their own meals again.
In April, they were still struggling with financial problems. Brytian called 877-272-7337, the American Red Cross Service to The Armed Forces (SAF) hotline, to see if they would qualify for any additional assistance. After providing the SAF team with their financial records, the Geary’s were granted a no-interest loan to help pay their rent and car payment. “If it wasn’t for the Red Cross we would still be suffering” said Brytain. The Geary’s have a positive outlook for the future. They expect the VA will begin paying them his disability payments soon, and Brytian plans to start attending college this fall with his GI Bill.
Story By: Dawn Tomoson
Photo by: Nigel Holderby