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November 4, 2012
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Penn Valley soldier makes steady recovery progress


A Penn Valley wounded warrior’s steady recovery will be featured during a segment on Sacramento television news.

News10, an ABC affiliate based in Sacramento, will dedicate nearly five minutes to telling the story of U.S. Army Spc. Brandon Walden, a 20-year-old Penn Valley native who suffered a life-threatening gunshot wound to his hip after being attacked July 3 by an Afghan man wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform.

The segment will air at 11 p.m. today.

News10 Reporter George Warren traveled to San Antonio to interview Walden and his family, including Laura Cummins, Walden’s mother, who has been at her son’s bedside since July.

“It’s a remarkable story,” Warren said. “Especially when you consider all the support he has received from his family.”

Cummins has not been back to Penn Valley since July, when Walden was fighting for his life, and often sleeps in the same room as her son at the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

“I miss my home, but my son needs me,” she said.

While Cummins maintains a constant vigil beside her recovering son, she has flown her other four children — David, 13; Destinee, 12; Madissen, 9; and Meagan, 17 — out to be by her and her ailing son’s side.

Joshua, 21, is home in Penn Valley taking care of the household, Cummins said.

While she is pleased to have five of her six children with her, she concedes it can be a challenge as the siblings are prone to arguing.

“You know how kids that age are — they got the world figured out,” Cummins said. “It’s a lot of work.”

Despite the daily travails, Cummins said Walden’s brothers and sisters are indispensable parts of his recovery, as they keep him grounded and help keep him occupied during the long hours of recovery.

Walden’s prognosis has improved, as much of the infection in the wounded hip area of his body that plagued him in the weeks and months following July 3 has finally subsided.

“Things are going really well,” Cummins said. “We got the blood work back recently, and it was all normal, so we are out of the woods in terms of infection.”

Walden is able to stand up on his own and can walk with the help of a walker, Cummins said.

“Two weeks ago, he just got tired of the wheelchair and decided he was going to start walking,” she said.

Walden participates in several intense and grueling physical therapy sessions on a weekly basis, Cummins said, and he is still slated to undergo surgery in December to reverse the colostomy he received.

“The full recovery process will last at least a year, a year and a half,” Cummins said.

In anticipation of the lengthy recuperation, Cummins plans to move her entire family out to the San Antonio region for the duration of the convalescence.

For all the physical injuries and the demanding nature of rehabilitation, Cummins said she and her other children can help Walden rebound from the psychological effects of the incident.

“He still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is normal,” Cummins said.

For all that, Warren was very impressed with Walden’s bravery as he recovers.

“I was wondering if Brandon was going to want to discuss the incident,” Warren said. “But he actually likes talking about it now. He is just a typical 20-year-old guy. He is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing.”

Cummins said Walden’s progress in escaping infection and the associated fevers means the family can concentrate on obtaining leave so Walden and Cummins can come home to Penn Valley for a visit.

“I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the amazing support of the community,”Cummins said. “I’m so proud to be from Nevada County.”

Since the incident transpired, western Nevada County has displayed its appreciation for military service and its generosity, donating time and money to help the family in its time of crisis.

Those interested in helping can make a donation to: Brandon Walden Donation Fund, c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 17446 Penn Valley Drive, Penn Valley, CA 95946.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.


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The Union Updated Nov 16, 2012 12:06PM Published Nov 6, 2012 08:52AM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.