“Someone told me daddy is gross. He isn’t gross. He is a hero,” said the oldest daughter of Michael Verardo, a wounded veteran who is missing a limb.
Verardo lost his leg in 2010 serving as an infantryman in Afghanistan. Since then, he has undergone over 100 surgeries and years of physical and occupational therapy, according to a press release.
After hearing their daughter’s words, the Verardo family realized the need for a children’s book that could explain the wounds sustained by many veterans.
“There are many military families who struggle with explaining the complex injuries to their own children, and even more so with children who are not exposed to this life on a daily basis,” said Michael’s wife and caregiver, Sarah Verardo.
She's now the author and publisher of "Hero at Home," a children’s book that aims to normalize interactions with injured veterans, especially those with amputations.
“Our goal with this book is to be able to describe this in a way that allows these children to understand the sacrifices made by our nation’s wounded veterans and to see that they are truly heroes,” she said.
The mother of three is also the executive director of the Independence Fund, an advocacy organization for severely wounded Veterans.
One of the pillars of the Independence Fund is the mobility program, which provides all-terrain wheelchairs and adaptive bicycles to veterans “of all eras.”
The cover of "Hero at Home" features an illustration of a veteran in one of those all-terrain wheelchairs. While the book may be for children, a spokesperson says that it's educational for people of all ages.
"Hero at Home" is currently available on Amazon. The proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the Independence Fund, according to a spokesperson.