Soldiers help out wounded warrior

Hood Herald/TJ MAXWELL - Staff Sgt. Donte Payne, 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade, clears brush and tree limbs at the home of wounded warrior Staff Sgt. Chris Craft, 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade, near Copperas Cove during a Make a Difference Day project Friday.

By Holly Wise

Fort Hood Herald

COPPERAS COVE - Watching the demolition take place in her backyard Friday was a special moment for Brittany Craft.

"I don't think they realize how much of a help this is," she said. "It's stress off Chris' back."

Bustling around her home just west of Copperas Cove were 70 people, multiple chain saws and a wood chipper as part of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade's Make a Difference Day. The day was dedicated to wounded veteran Sgt. Chris Craft, Brittany's husband.

"What you see is 50 percent of these soldiers out here are wounded warriors helping another soldier," Capt. Malcolm Wilson said.

Craft, 35, was critically injured March 13, 2008, in Iraq in an explosion involving three roadside bombs. He is set to medically retire from the Army in December after 16 years of service.

"This is just showing Chris he's appreciated," Brittany, 23, said. "It makes me happy to see him happy."

In a family deeply rooted in the military, Brittany carries a sense of pride for all veterans and for herself having served.

"In our family, it's a privilege to be able to say, 'I am a solider,' 'I am a veteran," she said. "I have such a tremendous respect for our vets."

With his wife's arms wrapped around his waist, Craft leaned on his cane and watched the beehive of activity in his backyard.

"That helps tremendously," Craft said, gesturing to the stacks of cedar firewood and branches being fed into the chipper.

The Crafts eventually want to purchase cows or goats and raise their young family in the country environment.

"We want them to know what responsibility is and appreciate life," Brittany said of their 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

Watching the outpouring of respect for her husband was special for Brittany.

"To have other people acknowledge him ... I think it's opened his eyes to him that maybe he did do something good," she said.

"In my eyes he is my hero," she added. "He is my best friend."

Joining in the volunteer effort were regional Baxter Healthcare employees.

Regional Sales Manager Nancy Burton said her company contacted Fort Hood looking for an opportunity to help.

"They allowed us to come and pitch in," she said. "Our organization is very, very supportive of volunteering, especially as it relates to the U.S. troops."

Baxter Healthcare employee Roger Schneider was in charge of cooking lunch for everyone on a smoker donated for the event by the Copperas Cove chapter of the Legacy Outfitters, a Christian men's group.

"To me it's phenomenal," Baxter Healthcare employee Tom McGee said. "It's giving back to the service men and women that have sacrificed themselves that we be free today."

"It's good seeing these guys out here doing a lot of this stuff together," Wilson said. "We just enjoy helping out another soldier."

Contact Holly Wise at or (254) 501-7474.

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