The Purple Heart organization and wrestling superstar Goldberg will honor recipients at Boerne this weekend

SAN ANTONIO – National Purple Heart Day is Sunday, and a local organization is helping recipients in Texas and across the country.

The Purple Heart Project is hosting its 3rd annual fundraiser on Saturday, where more than 30 recipients will be honored for their service and sacrifice. The project provides valuable community resources to veterans.

One such recipient is Boerne resident James Elkins, a former US Army Ranger. Elkins was injured in March 2012 while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.

“We were on a dismounted patrol. It was a part of the business, which means everyone was there,” Elkins said. “I went out to clear a grape shack with two other of my soldiers, and as I failed the door and entered, I received a gunshot wound to the back of the head, and she is came out directly on my lower lip, fell me to the floor.

Elkins was rushed to a Kandahar hospital and received his Purple Heart while in the emergency room.

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“I received my Purple Heart from a general in the 82nd. He was at base at the time. From there I was airlifted to Bagram, where I underwent surgery for approximately eight o’clock. They removed all the bone fragments from my jaw that the bullet had displaced. They put an eight-inch titanium plate on the outside and a six-inch titanium plate on the inside and took everything zipped. And that was it. One operation.”

Elkins flew to San Antonio to continue his recovery and transition from active duty.

“There were a lot of organizations in the San Antonio area that were there to help with the transition of injured soldiers from their military sector to the civilian sector. I started volunteering with a lot of them because there were a lot of other guys and girls hurt at the same time as me. It just sent the message that just because you had a bad day doesn’t mean it’s all over,” Elkins said.

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Wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg is one of the biggest veteran advocates in the San Antonio area. Goldberg has raised awareness for local veterans’ causes since moving to the area two years ago.

“They are very selfless. Let’s be perfectly honest. The last thing veterans and especially Purple Heart recipients want is attention,” Goldberg said. “The most important thing about talking to recipients over the years is the ability to meet like-minded people and not be thrown in front of a microscope, just being able to have those normal conversations, which ultimately, c is like therapy for them.

Goldberg will be the keynote speaker at Saturday’s fundraiser in Boerne, honoring Elkins and other injured veterans. He said events like these are important to veterans in the community.

“You see the payoff for future generations in that you’re setting a good example for kids in our community to continue their hard work,” Goldberg said. “I hate to say because it sounds selfish, but I think I get more out of it than them.”

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Elkins said there was no doubt he would recover from his injury and be there for his wife and child.

“When you hear a disabled veteran or an injured veteran, you immediately think they lost something, but they really gained it,” Elkins said. “Just because you left a part of you on the battlefield, that experience and that determination to get through a tough day, if you take that and apply that in the corporate world, you can never fail. You consistently succeed.

Click here for more information on the Purple Heart Project. Saturday’s fundraiser is closed to the public, but charitable donations can be made for Purple Heart recipients. The event has grown from honoring 13 recipients in the first year to at least 35 this year.

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Aubrey L. Morgan