Family needs help for injured soldier - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family needs help for injured soldier

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A Waterloo native injured in Iraq may be able to come home by the end of this year, but his family is looking for help in making some special preparations for his arrival.

25-year-old Army Sergeant Ian Ralston was critically injured and paralyzed back on May 29.

When Ian Ralston was injured, doctors told his family he'd never talk, eat or breathe on his own again. Now, he is talking and eating and working on his breathing.

If the progress continues, he could be released from the hospital in time for Christmas, but the family needs the community's help to get the house ready.

Steve Ralston, Ian's father, said Ian was paralyzed while riding in the top hatch of an armored stryker ambulance.

"Ian was standing air guard and they were on convoy and as his stryker went under an overpass and an IED suspended under that overpass went off," Steve explained.

Ralston said shrapnel went in the back of Ian's neck, lodged in his spinal cord and paralyzed him from the neck down.

"Very, very critical condition," Steve said.

Ian Ralston was first treated in Balad, Iraq, then Germany and then the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Around the middle of July, he was transferred to Minneapolis.

Steve said his son is making phenomenal progress and even cracking jokes. The goal is for him to be home in Waterloo by Christmas.

But the house needs some work. A bedroom will be turned into Ian's living area. A dining room will be his rehab room. An addition is required to make all this happen as well as ramps and a new electrical system to handle Ian's equipment. The porch needs to be made one level and doors need to be replaced.

"The funds that are due to him through the VA, for one thing won't become available to him until he's a veteran, but we don't want to touch his funds because knowing Ian, I fully expect maybe a few years down the line he'll want to move to his own home and we want him to have all those funds that he earned totally available to him," Steve said.

The family is looking for financial assistance, equipment donations and volunteers to help with construction.

Ralston said nothing would make him happier than to have his son back for Christmas, and he appreciates any help people can give to his family.

Rick Reuter has volunteered to be the contractor. The goal is to hopefully to start work on the house in the next couple weeks.

Ian Ralston's mom, sister and girlfriend have been at his side in Minneapolis. Thankfully, they're able to stay near the hospital for free.

There's an Ian Ralston benefit fund set up at Veridian Credit Union.

You can also email helpforian@yahoo.com to contact the family.

If you'd like to help with the work on the house, call the contractor Rick Reuter. He can be reached at 319-493-0641.

To follow along with Ian's progress, his mom has a blog set up at www.caringbridge.org.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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