Operation Children's Hearts

Operation Children's Hearts
By: Holly Brantley
PERRYVILLE, MO --Right now, somewhere, U.S. soldiers are standing watch to keep our world safe. But, who is helping them here at home?
Justin Dietiker is one of those soldiers. He proudly served his country whenever it called. This forced his family to handle serious problems at home without his help.
Now, the Dietikers are facing illness and a financial burden. And, they don't quality for much support. But, the state of Missouri wants to find ways to help the Dietiker's and others like them. But you are going to have to help.
It all started six years ago when Hope was born. Doctors diagnosed her with cystic fibrosis. Three years later, Isabell was born with a cleft pallett. And, just a few months ago, Terri learned she has non-hodgkins lymphoma.
"It's very upsetting to hear the word cancer in somebody that you know, let alone somebody that you love and you've been away from for so long," said Justin.
Justin is a former Marine. As a member of the National Guard he was called to duty in Iraq and to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"We weren't drafted. We weren't forced to go," said Justin. "We went because that's what we need to do."
Justin wasn't injured and that means he doesn't qualify for grants that would help pay for mounting medical bills.
"The good news is Justin wasn't injured," said Pat Rowe Kerr of the Missouri Veterans Commission. "But if he was injured there is significant money available that I can't access now."
"The treatments are expensive," said Terri. "The drive is expensive and being away from home is expensive."
The Dietiker's are speaking out not only for themselves but for countless other military families like them. Who answered the call to duty. Who sacrificed so much. But, who are now lost in, what some believe, is a fractured system.
"The system hasn't failed," said Justin. "But, there's a lot of work that needs to be done to get it running smooth. I just want people to realize this isn't about it. It's about all the sailors, all the airmen, all the Marines. We want people to realize we face hardships and consequenses and outcomes of deployment."
The Dietikers say they have faith that God will take care of their family.
The state is launching Operation Children's Hearts on Valentine's day to try and bring them some much needed help.
100% of the contributions sent to Operation Children's Hearts will go to the Dietiker family.
Contributions can be made out to:
Operation Childrens' Hearts
Missouri Veterans Commision
PO Drawer 147
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0147