Wounded soldier transferred to Tampa

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL sarah@newnan.com Sgt. First Class Mark Allen has been transferred to the Tampa Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Allen, a soldier with Bravo 2/121, the Georgia Army National Guard unit that operates out of Newnan's Jackson-Pless Armory, received a severe head injury July 8 in Afghanistan.
Since his arrival back in the U.S., Allen had been at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. The transfer to Tampa will put him much closer to his family, many of whom live in Ocala, Fla. Allen is still in a coma, but is off all life support, other than a feeding tube, said Robert Stokely, a member of the Family Readiness Group for Bravo 2/121. Allen's breathing is much improved, Stokely said, and he does open his eyes sometimes, but "he is not showing any signs of recognizing what is going on around him," he said. Allen has brain activity but "they just can't tell how much cognitive function he has got," Stokely said. It is not unusual for someone with a traumatic brain injury to still be in that condition, he said. Two fund-raisers for Allen will be coming up soon. On Aug. 27, the Coweta Crossroads Chick-fil-A will be donating proceeds from sales made between 5 and 8 p.m. to the Wounded Warrior SFC Mark Allen Fund. The Newnan Dwarf House will do the same Aug. 31. Donations will also be accepted at the restaurants that night, or they can be sent to 100 Fountainhead Way, Sharpsburg, GA 30277. The military is paying for all of Allen's medical care, of course, and is also paying for his wife, Shannon, to be at his side. The fund-raiser is to help the family with "gap expenses," such as travel for Allen's parents, and helping with items such as lawn care at Allen's home while his family is visiting the hospital. "When you've got someone in a long-term care situation like this, it really eats into your pocketbook," Stokely said. Friends and neighbors of the Allens have been very helpful, Stokely said, but "this is going to be a long haul for them." Similar fund-raisers were held earlier this month at the Fayetteville Chick-fil-A and Upscale Pizza. As of Aug. 10, a total of $4,464 had been collected. The other two soldiers injured with Allen are continuing to recover. Spc. Charles Benson remains at the VA Hospital in Augusta. The cast is off his left hand, and his right hand is recovering pretty well, but "we still don't know if he has to have more surgery," Stokely said. Corp. Jonathan Morita is at Walter Reed Medical Center. Morita's most serious injury was to his right index finger, when a rocket propelled grenade struck him and took out his weapon. Doctors are unsure how much use of the index finger Morita will have when healed, Stokely said. Both Benson and Allen received laptop computers, specially set up to be used by soldiers with hand and arm impairments, from Soldiers Angels.


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