Rosie Babin is the mother of retired Army Corporal Alan “Doc” Babin. The events of September 11 changed the course of her family’s life — and especially that of her son, Alan.
On March 31, 2003, while serving as a paratrooper medic with the elite 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, Alan was severely wounded while attempting to give medical assistance to a wounded paratrooper. After lying on the hood of a gun truck for three hours before finally being evacuated, Alan lost 90% of his stomach, his spleen, part of his pancreas and sustained injuries to his liver and diaphragm. Alan survived the battlefield injuries, major infections and over 70 surgeries in the seven months he spent in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Unfortunately, he also contracted meningitis and suffered a debilitating stroke, adding him to the ranks of those with a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
As one of the first families to arrive at Walter Reed in 2003 in support of their wounded soldier, Rosie soon realized that she would have to remain at Alan’s side to be his advocate; like many of the family members that followed her, she realized she would have to quit her job and resigned from the accounting firm she managed in Austin, Texas. Rosie is an Army veteran herself, a paralegal, and an administrator; she put her skills to work full time to ensure that Alan received the quality of care he needed.
The number of Iraq casualties mounted as the war continued and the DoD and the VA were often unable to respond promptly and effectively to requests made by patients or their advocates. Rosie began to unravel and decipher the complex rules and regulations governing care within the military hospital and VA systems.
Unwilling to give in when her instincts told her she was right, Rosie politely refused to take “no” for an answer and simply moved up the chain of command until she found a decision maker who could help solve a problem. She has worked directly (and, in many cases, continues to work with) members of Congress, senior officials at the DoD, senior VA administrators, the office of the Secretary of Defense and President George W. Bush (in photo with Laura Bush, Rosie and her husband, Alain, at Walter Reed Hospital) to cut through procedural or bureaucratic roadblocks that prevented her son — and those who follow him — from receiving the level of care and assistance to which he is entitled as a severely wounded veteran.
By 2005, she was an active member of an informal network of caregivers who were sharing information on how to obtain help from governmental agencies and private foundations as well as supporting each other as they faced inevitable setbacks. As the number of sporting and therapeutic events designed for wounded soldiers dramatically increased, these families began meeting in person as their sons, daughters, grandchild, wives or husbands participated in wheelchair marathons, skiing, kayaking, swimming and other events sponsored by the military, non-profit groups and government.
In addition to the sheer hard work involved in caring for a severely wounded family member, Rosie saw how many families face great financial hardship. Some quit their jobs or changed careers, others travelled cross-country to and from VA centers so their loved one could obtain specialized treatment for burns, paralysis or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). For all of them, there seemed to be a constant stream of unexpected expenses.
By 2008, Rosie had begun working to put families who were caring for severely wounded soldiers in touch with foundations, non-profit organizations and others who provide financial assistance in these difficult situations. To date, this work had delivered tens of thousands of dollars in assistance to families — usually in relatively modest amounts — at absolutely no cost to the family.
In addition, Rosie began to think about another group of caregivers: the “first responders” on the battlefield. Two of the nurses who cared for her son when he was evacuated to the hospital ship “Comfort” had become close friends and, from conversations with them as well as physicians and medics, Rosie realized that the first responders were not only unsung heroes, but could act as a channel for help to the newly wounded.
By 2009, while he still needed care on a 24/7 basis, Alan’s condition was improving to the point where, after over 70 procedures in ten different medical facilities, Rosie began to see that she could finally take the time to put her knowledge and skills to work helping other families.
In late 2009, Rosie formed Help Our Wounded and began work in earnest on a mission that seeks to: “Serve the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the wounded warrior and those who care for them…” Today, Help Our Wounded (HOW) is expanding its outreach and work while building a nationally recognized Board of Advisors and adding talent to the Board of Directors that will steer this organization into the future.
Rosie frequently speaks before civic and veterans groups to inspire and motivate them to fill the gaps where the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration fall short in meeting the needs of our combat veterans. Her efforts have gained the attention of military and elected officials as she continues to be a part of bringing about changes to federal law and DoD regulations.
Rosie is married to her high-school sweetheart, Alain, a Captain with the Round Rock Police Department. Together, they have two children Alan and Christy, and reside in Round Rock, Texas.