PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – Army Sergeant Stephanie Vazquez served her country where she gave of her heart, soul and body. Part of her leg was amputated after being injured in a firefight overseas. Now, on rolling property in Portland, she shares the peace she’s found here with the children of fallen comrades.
“I really focused on building this farm for these kids to come out here because I know these animals have been therapy for me. And so far today, they’ve loved them,” Vazquez said.
The teens traveled from across the country with their stories in tow.
“My real father died overseas. He was actually a hero,” explained 14-year-old Jayden Shoellhorn. “My real mom and my stepdad did pass away due to murder-suicide. He had PTSD. I’m a three-time Gold Star, I guess.”
Teens, like Shoellhorn, inspired Vazquez to partner with the Soldier’s Child Foundation, based out of Smyrna, for a weekend of therapy where they’ll go from being surrounded by sounds on the farm to sweet tunes of a different kind.
Friday evening, the teens headed into a songwriting session where their memories were turned into melodies, guided by a family of people connected by their love of country and loss.
“You could just find comfort in anybody. You don’t have to worry about getting judged by your circumstance and they’re not going to be upset if you cry in front of them,” Shoellhorn said. “It’s just, you know, comforting.”
It’s all thanks to the generosity of people who support A Soldier’s Child.
“Thank you. Thank you very much,” Shoellhorn said to donors. “It really helps.”