By his own admission, Bryan Buchanan is a very private guy, though it isn't unusual to find him going the extra mile to help out someone in need.
Less than a month after being injured in an accident involving a four-wheeler and a loose patch of gravel, the Army National Guardsman has found himself embraced by the community as it helps to raise funds to defray expenses wrought by the accident.
“It's a very humbling thing,” he said. “I just really appreciate everything everyone has done – I don't feel like it's necessarily something I've earned (but) it means a lot to me, it really does.”
On Saturday, Legend's Old Time Burger Café will host a “Give Back” event, donating a portion of the day's sales to an effort benefitting Buchanan and his family, while Beverly's Country Café will host a similar event on Oct. 12.
Additionally, an account has been opened at Austin Bank under “Bryan Buchanan.”
He and his wife Suzie own Patriot Plumbing, located just south of Jacksonville.
However, their business has operated in fits and starts because Buchanan – a National Guard staff sergeant with Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry based out of Kilgore – has been deployed three times (twice overseas) since opening in 2000.
“On Jan. 7, 2003, I was activated, and came home on Feb. 20, 2005. We started the company back up, and about six months later, (his unit was deployed to) Louisiana, so we shut the company down to help with Katrina for a month,” he recalled.
In December 2009, the unit was once again activated, and deployed overseas for about a year; when Buchanan returned home, the couple got the business going again, often cutting costs or not charging those individual who needed their help.
“I had one person pay their account with pecans,” he said. “We've tried to help out people in need.”
Because of the accident, however, the business has shuttered its doors once again.
In early September, Buchanan – who was on his four-wheeler “looking for a short cut between my house and Ponta” – hit a patch of gravel while traveling of Echo Valley Road and his vehicle flipped, trapping him underneath.
“I had been laying there 15 or 20 minutes when someone who happened to be coming through pulled the four-wheeler off me and called the ambulance. He was an Army reservist – SFC Todd, who is out of Tyler – who lived down there and was coming down that way,” Buchanan recalled.
Airlifted to Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, medical personnel discovered he had broken six ribs and a collarbone, as well as sustained a collapsed lung. He was released from the Tyler hospital on Sept. 14.
“Because they can't cast anything with broken ribs or collarbones, they just gave me a sling – there's no rehab,” he said. “And because of my lungs, I can pretty much go from our living room to the bedroom and then be out of breath.”
Added his wife, “he's getting better every day.”
A lengthy period of recuperation doesn't come as a surprise, though the outpouring of support has, he said.
Almost immediately after being hospitalized – “it seem like I wasn't there but five minutes” – Buchanan said his preacher and several members of Woodland Heights Baptist Church (where the couple and their children Nicholas, 6, and Hailey, 4, worship) came to visit.
“I don't know how they knew,” he said, then described how another visitor – the gentleman who sold him advertising space – when he discovered Buchanan was in the hospital, “came up to Tyler to pray with me.
“And every day someone from the church visits,” he said. “Little stuff like that – it means a lot to me.”
Suzie admits that she's also somewhat surprised about how generous people have been, “but God is very good,” she said. “Bryan doesn't want anything to do anything for him – he gives, gives, gives, but doesn't want to receive. But I tell him, 'People care about you.'”
Julianne Sanford, who is helping spearhead the “give back” effort, said “it says a lot about our community about how we care for others, especially those who have served in the military.”
She commended Legends owner George Beckham and Bev's proprietors Doug and Beverly Hinds for their dedication to the military community of East Texas.
“It doesn't surprise me at all (that they would support this effort), because they're very military-friendly,” she said, adding that she was thankful for their patriotism.
“I'm a veteran myself,” said Beckham, who served five years with the U.S. Coast Guard. “But even if I wasn't, I hope to be as compassionate with our vets and their families, who put up with a lot. So when Julianne asked, I said, 'Absolutely,' and hopefully we'll get some people out here (to help with the effort).”
To learn more about the Give Back effort, contact Julianne Sanford, coordinator of the Lone Star Military Resource Group, at 903-810-0303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.