Continuing her work with soldiers and military families, Nicole Vargas is at it again, expanding from Adopt a Soldier and getting involved with Paws and Stripes.
Paws and Stripes is an organization that works to pair service dogs with soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Vargas has decided to branch out and spread the word about Paws and Stripes in honor of a family friend who was wounded overseas.
Jolene and Frank Lilley have been longtime helpers of Adopt a Soldier, working so closely with Vargas that she was adopted into their family. The Lilley’s son, Scott Lilley, was overseas receiving care packages through Vargas’ program. He was especially remembered during Vargas’ Cookie Project.
“I didn’t mean to freak him out, but I did when he accidentally received more than 18 boxes of cookies,” Vargas said, a mishap that resulted from a last minute rush to label 3,000 boxes. “If you tell him, ‘Nicole,’ he thinks of cookies.”
But while abroad, Scott was wounded when shrapnel hit him in the head, Vargas stated.
“We almost lost him,” she said, choking back tears. But although he now has TBI, Scott has pulled through and is back in the military.
To honor him and other soldiers with PTSD or TBI, Vargas has started pulling for Paws and Stripes. She said they mostly need dog food and leashes.
She also continues to send basic care packages with socks, baby wipes, letters and jerky, partnering with Ranchline, who has now added lamb jerky to the menu.
However, these packages will now also be going to San Antonio Medical Hospital in Texas to the guys who “really gave it all,” Vargas said. This was the hospital where Scott was treated, so Vargas wants to remind the soldiers there that they are not forgotten.
If you would like to donate money, dog food, leashes or basic goods, or deliver a letter to be sent to a soldier, everything can be dropped at #5 Pecan Place. For more information, call Vargas at 317-1336.