Granting wishes: Local veteran surprised with gift
In May of this year, retired veteran Julie Barcheers received a mortgage free home in Carriere from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in partnership with the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
This Sunday, representatives of Merrill Lynch in Slidell, La. once again surprised Barcheers with a Christmas gift.
Barcheers was born and raised in Florida and said she had either wanted to join the military or become a cop.
In 1979, she joined the Navy and worked in law enforcement. After leaving the Navy, Barcheers joined the Army National Guard. She served in logistical supply, human resources and law enforcement. During her military career, she received many honors.
During her civilian career, Barcheers worked as a reserve patrol deputy, corrections deputy and dispatcher.
According to a previous Item article, Barcheers was wounded by an inmate while working as a civilian. As a result, the right side of her face was paralyzed and she became the recipient of the Law Enforcement Purple Heart.
From 2003 to 2005, she served in “Operation Enduring Freedom.” After Hurricane Katrina, Barcheers was stationed for four and a half months in Plaquemines Parish in 2007.
She served in “Operation Iraqi Freedom” from 2008 to 2009.
During her tour in Iraq, Barcheers suffered a serious injury.
“A rocket entered our contingency operation base and I was hit on the back of the head with the rocket’s concussion,” Barcheers said. “My shoulders, knee and feet were also affected.”
As a result, Barcheers suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, along with a traumatic brain injury and depression.
Barcheers said receiving her new home helped her embark on a fresh start.
“I love my little home,” Barcheers said. “It’s ideally located and peaceful out here. It has helped me overcome my fear of stepping outside and being close to the ocean helps my depression. When I’m near the water, I feel the tide pull everything away.”
Barcheers said Picayune’s southern charm, the weather and the Gulf of Mexico all played a factor in her decision to move down south.
“The people out here are fantastic,” Barcheers said. “It’s the south as it should be.”
After she retired, a friend of Barcheers introduced her to the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
According to its website, the foundation is a non-profit charity designed to provide support for the nation’s wounded heroes and Gold Star families as they transition out of military life into civilian life. Programs include home donations, academic and employment assistance and recreational activities.
Barcheers applied for the home donation and upon approval, received the key to her new home from country artist George Strait on stage at one his final concerts.
On Sunday, Ted Longo, a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch presented Barcheers with $1,200 to help her acquire furniture for her home.
“We heard she was unable to bring a lot of her furniture from Georgia to Mississippi,” Longo said. “It’s important to respect and appreciate what our veterans have done for us. I’m proud of the company and honored that they asked me to be a part of giving back.”
Barcheers said she thought the group came out for a follow-up and wasn’t expecting the gift. Most of the furniture in her home is rented and Barcheers plans to acquire a mattress, box spring, sectional and television.
“We, as veterans, are not heroes,” Barcheers said. “We are average people with a bigger heart and capacity for protecting what we love. The biggest thing, is for veterans to not be forgotten as they make the transition back into civilian life. Some people assume that because the wounds aren’t visible, that we were not injured. There are the invisible wounds that leave some with a sad and clouded heart and the memories of what we went through.”
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