Companies, community come together for injured Concord soldier Afghanistan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SALISBURY — A U.S. soldier seriously wounded in Afghanistan more than two months ago will be making his return home to Concord Dec. 22 with an escort through North Carolina by the Patriot Guard riders.
Spc. Tyler “T.J.” Jeffries, 23, lost both his legs Oct. 6 when he walked onto a command wire IED (improvised explosive device), which was detonated by an Afghan militant. He has been recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
“Tyler has made great strides in his recovery in such a short time,” Angie Patton said in an e-mail to the Post Tuesday. “Last week he received his first prosthetics and is learning to walk. … He is an exceptional young man with so much courage and has given so much for our country.”
Patton, general manager for Jacobson — a vendor within the Delhaize America Shared Services Group — works out of the Food Lion headquarters office in Salisbury.
Jeffries’ mother, Pam Britt, works for Patton.
Thanks to a corporate and community effort, Britt has been able to work off site in Maryland while being close to her son and helping with his recovery.
“Food Lion has really reached out and gone above and beyond for Tyler and Pam,” Patton said.
Several people with the Lion’s Pride foundation and the Military Business Resource Group “have stepped up to make his recovery better,” she added.
Lion’s Pride gave Britt a check for $1,000 the day she left for Maryland to help with her travel expenses.
Many Food Lion employees have raised money on their own and sent it to Britt and her son, Patton said, who made special mention of Michael Porter, Jon Corriher, Craig Coghill, Greg Finchum and Tom Robinson.
Patton said they “were all involved in all the fund-raising efforts, gathering items from the stores and having them sent over to Tyler at Walter Reed.”
“I could not have done any of this without all their help,” Patton said.
Food Lion stores in Maryland prepared and delivered a Thanksgiving meal to the family.
Patton listed other efforts on the family’s behalf:
• Renee Wilhelm of Kannapolis Sprinkler donated $1,000.
• The Corriher Grange and the Rockwell AMVETS and their ladies auxiliary sent in donations.
• An account, “The Benefit for Tyler Jeffries,” has been set up at Wells Fargo to accept donations.
• Jacobson, for whom Patton and Britt work, asked its employees to donate paid time off to help Britt with the days and hours she has had to miss. Jacobson employees have donated five-and-a-half weeks of paid time off so Britt never missed a paycheck, Patton said.
• Sixth-grade classes at Erwin Middle School sent get-well cards to Jeffries on Veterans Day.
“It has been amazing to watch how everyone steps up to help Tyler,” Patton said.
Jeffries grew up in Florida and is a 2007 graduate of Zephyrhills High School, where he pitched and played first base for the baseball team.
The high school sent cards and a care package with school souvenirs soon after Jeffries was hurt.
After the explosion, Jeffries was taken to Germany for surgery. He had other operations after arriving at Walter Reed.
Jeffries served as an infantryman with the 2-1 Attack Co., based out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
A Facebook page, “Supporting Tyler Jeffries,” already has 4,619 followers. After 40 days in hospital care, Jeffries moved to an outpatient phase of his recovery and intensive physical therapy with his new limbs.
A welcome-home party for Jeffries will be held at 3 p.m. Dec. 22 at Crosspointe Baptist Church in Concord, 1175 Crosspointe Drive. For more information, call 813-352-0833.