Brian Birdwell:9/11 survivor tells his story

Brian at Air Force Academy NCLS

I heard the amazing testimony of Brian Birdwell on Friday this week and I thought  I would share it with you.

I am Second – Brian Birdwell

Strength Forged from Fire and Faith
Face the Fire, the ministry started by severely burned 9/11 Pentagon survivor Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell and wife Mel, gives hope and encouragement to burn survivors and their families.Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell was standing about 20 yards away from the spot where American Airlines Flight 77 was deliberately crashed through the outer wall of the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Though horribly burned, Brian survived; but the weeks and months that followed were filled with excruciating pain,operations and endless therapy sessions. Brian and Mel Birdwell lived with the fear and overwhelming stress and sadness burn patient families must endure. Yet, amid the agony and heart-wrenching circumstances surrounding them, the Birdwells discovered life-sustaining hope and meaning in events that were out of their control. They learned about the ultimate miracle of grace.It was this discovery and the knowledge that God wanted them to use their experience to help others that led them to start Face the Fire Ministries. Through their work with Face the Fire, the Birdwells visit burn units and military hospitals across the country, offering comfort to others who are dealing with burns and severe injuries from combat.It is such an honor to go in and visit survivors and their families. They have exactly the same questions we had, and we know what a difference it can make to hear the truth from someone who has experienced what they are going through.They also want to know the answers to tougher questions like, “Will we ever have a normal life again?” We know what it is like to desperately need someone to talk to who has been through what you are going through. It can be such a lifeline,” the Birdwell’s say.

Brian and Mel Birdwell have visited numerous burn centers across the country including the Timothy Harner Burn Center in Lubbock, Texas; the Jaycee Burn Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Orange County Burn Center in Orlando; the Strong Burn Center in Rochester, New York; Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, the Grossman Burn Center in California, the West Penn Burn Center in Pennsylvania and many others. During the visits, the Birdwells present survivors and their families with a copy of their book, Refined by Fire, and a coin the Birdwells designed and had minted. They also have the privilege  visit with the staff members at each unit, which the Birdwell’s describe as “some of the most dedicated professionals you will find anywhere, with one of the toughest jobs in medicine.”

All donations and proceeds received from the book, Refined by Fire, and from speaking engagements go directly to the ministry. The Birdwell’s receive no compensation from the ministry.  All  funds received are used to help others who are in the midst of a difficult journey.

Face the Fire Ministries has donated to Fisher Houses – facilities similar to Ronald McDonald Houses – on military installations,. These facilities house families who are caring for injured soldiers  As well as establshing a fund through the Child Development Center at Fort Sam Houston, which houses Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), to provide child care for the families of our servicemen and women recovering from their wounds and critical burns.

Face the Fire provides financial assistance to help defray the cost of being displaced from home.
“There aren’t burn units in every hospital, and sometimes it is necessary for families to be hundreds of miles away from home, with no income to support their needs,” Mel says. “Face the Fire helps take care of them while they are caring for their loved one.”

Since its establishment in 2003, Face the Fire has provided over $200,000.00 in assistance to families in need as well.  Each year the ministry makes donations to different burn centers for use as they choose to further improve the recovery of their patients.

Face the Fire Ministries already has helped to make life easier for many burn survivors, wounded servicemen and women and their families. Brian and Mel Birdwell continue to provide comfort and support, both mental and financial, “as Christ has comforted us.”

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