purple heart ceremony.

In September 2009, Branden Stackenwalt was on patrol in an armored vehicle in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device exploded. The blast killed one soldier, wounded two others and left Stackenwalt with a mild traumatic brain injury and a number of serious injuries, including crushed vertebrae in his neck and back and broken bones in both legs, both heels and his left arm. When U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin met Stackenwalt at Walter Reed, Stackenwalt was unable to speak. He pulled out a piece of paper and wrote, "I'm sorry." Herseth Sandlin helped Stackenwalt and his family navigate the logistics of military medical bureaucracy and and the obstacles of the recovery process. Since then the two families have grown close. Herseth Sandlin pinned the Purple Heart on Stackenwalt earlier this week.

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