Dave Roever served in the Navy as special warfare command and as a Brown Water, Black Beret during the Vietnam War. His military career was cut short after a hand grenade exploded near his face. Roever had over 50 surgeries and the veteran joked he has a constructed nose.
“I got nose a bubba,” said Roever, president and CEO of Operation Warrior Reconnect, “I made it through, and you’ll make it through.”
Roever was one of 149 wounded warriors flown into Dallas from San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center on Wednesday, Nov. 14, to take part in the 14th annual Seats for Soldiers Night. The one-of-kind event honors military members who have been injured. The service members were served dinner at Nick & Sam’s Park Cities and given courtside seats at the Dallas Mavericks game.
“It’s more than just a dinner together,” Roever said. “This can save lives, and that’s why I love it.”
The event is a partnership between the Dallas Mavericks, American Airlines and Nick & Sam’s. However, the idea came from season ticket holders Neal and Jamie Hawks. After Neal read an article about wounded warriors, the family was moved to do their part to help.
“I want them to have a good day,” Jamie said. “I want them to have a day where they don’t have to think about pain and surgeries, and have a day where Neal and I are able to say thank you.”
The first year, the family flew in a few wounded servicemen from Brooke Army Medical Center. As fellow season ticket holders found out about the good deed, they too volunteered their tickets.
“Our annual Seats for Soldiers night is a reminder that we don’t get to enjoy the game we love without the incredible sacrifices our soldiers make,” said Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks owner.
Taner Nguyen joined the military two years ago but was paralyzed. Three months ago he arrived to Brooke Army Medical Center unable to walk. He is now walking with the use of crutches.
“It’s a privilege because of all the hard work that we’ve all put into to be able to come and watch a game, and take time out of our busy lives to do something fun, not therapy wise,” Nguyen said.
Robert Rupar, an Army medic, feels the experience provided to the wounded servicemen does more than show appreciation for their sacrifices, it is good for their health.
“A smile and a warm heart does a lot. You can have this moment that somebody cares,” Rupar said.
In 2018, the Department of Defense reported during the second quarter, 75 suicides by active military members and 14 suicides in the reserves.
“Even though the wars are ‘officially over’ and there’s signatures on paper that there is no war, they get up every morning, I get up every morning, and still fight that war,” Roever said. “We’ll fight it until the day we die.
“When people do what’s happening here tonight, it heals a lot of hurt.”
Wounded warriors apply to take part in the annual event. The soldiers selected have either been injured during combat or have received a purple heart.
Written by Lourdes Vasquez