Hero At Home: Celebrating wounded warriors and their caregivers

April 24, 2018 - 11:17 am

A new children’s book by a military caregiver gives readers a glimpse into the life of a child of a wounded soldier.

Sarah Verardo is the wife and caregiver of Michael Verardo, who suffered catastrophic injuries in April of 2010 while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. They currently live near Charlotte, North Carolina with their three daughters.

Sarah just published a new children’s book titled Hero At Home, which was inspired by a conversation she had with her oldest daughter, Grace.

Author Sarah Verardo is a wife, mother, caregiver and advocate.
Photo by Lindsay Hart

One of her daughter’s classmates had said that her father is “weird and gross” and that he doesn’t have a leg.

“So as I was putting her to bed that night, she said to me ‘someone…said Daddy is gross. But, he’s not gross, he’s a hero and he’s so handsome,” said Sarah.

The Verardo daughters were born after Michael was injured. “I always say they never knew anything was wrong with their father until other people told them,” Sarah said.

After hearing the comments, Sarah decided she wanted to use this moment to help her daughters, military families, as well as other adults, gain “tools to explain these war-time injuries.”

The book depicts a day in the life with Grace as she helps her Dad, first with the nurse who visits their home in the morning, then helping him put his leg on, and also going with him to physical therapy appointments.

Kids are caregivers too: For Sarah and Michael’s daughters, helping their dad is a part of every day life.
Photo by Lindsay Hart

“It’s very, very sweet, but yet explains the different challenges that we have maybe from the civilian families around us,” Sarah said. 

She was disappointed but not surprised that other books depicting families like hers had not already been written, due to the small population of the military and also those who are injured.

“It’s a small but mighty population,” she said.

The book is not limited in its story and message to just military families.

“One of the most important messages is right in the book. It says that Grace’s Daddy tells her that 'sometimes people get hurt and their bodies change, but they have the same heart,'” she said.  “And I think that is applicable across the board--civilian or military--for any type of life changing injury.”

The book was a way for her children to celebrate their father and to show other Americans how they love and care for a wounded soldier.

Sarah hopes that people who read Hero At Home takes away that the U.S. military is “an all-volunteer force, and we need to ensure that we take care of our nation’s war fighters as we send them and when they come home.”

All the proceeds from the book will donated to The Independence Fund, a national non-profit that directly supports wounded, ill, and injured veterans, and their families through several programs. Sarah is their executive director.

“It’s just so important to realize that when someone comes home, it doesn’t mean their battle is over,” she said about the importance of their work. “It actually is just the beginning of a new one.”

You can find the book Hero At Home on Amazon as well as heroathomebook.org