Helping Hands for Freedom is a 501c3 dedicated to supporting the families of the fallen, wounded and deployed.

Purple Heart, Bronze Star recipient helps others

Posted August 4, 2015 by Jaclyn Clark

By Paul Gable, Editor

Editor's Note: The following is a profile of a veteran in Shelby County. Today, we feature Staff Sgt. Patrick Shannon. If you know of a veteran we should profile, please email Paul Gable, editor, at

Duty. Honor. Country.

Nobody knows those three words better than Fairland resident Patrick Shannon, who suffered vision loss, nerve damage to his left leg and now deals with traumatic brain injuries after being involved in a mortar attack in 2006 in Iraq. As a result, Shannon received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his role in rescuing two injured Iraqi police officers.

Shannon joined the military on Oct. 31, 1988, following a family tradition and enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.

"I entered the military because I had always wanted to be a Marine, as my father and uncles had. I went into the Marine Corps first for almost 10 years in active duty as a grunt. I then came off active duty and drilled in the Marine Reserves Infantry in Terre Haute," Shannon said.

However, the drive to Terre Haute became tiring and Shannon opted to join an Army Guard Infantry unit closer to home.

During his time in the military, Shannon did multiple combat tours in Iraq and Somalia.

"I enjoyed leading men into battle. I wanted to make sure I had everyone trained to the best of their ability and ensure we made a difference once we were there. I was the Police Transition Officer Training and embedded the Iraqis and trained them on everything from marksmanship to gathering intel and clearing rooms," Shannon said.

After his injury, Shannon returned to the United States and spent time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for six months.

"Being injured at Walter Reed for six months was very eye-opening. You see others struggle and you live through your own struggles. I wanted to change and impact that," Shannon said.

And he started to try to make an impact through the Wounded Warriors Project as an outreach director.

"I saw what a difference an organization could make for the injured warrior and saw a void. None of the families of the fallen or the wounded were being helped. So I got the idea of starting my own 501(c)(3) and did with Rodney Smith as a co-founder and here we are," Shannon said.

That organization is Helping Hands For Freedom, a nonprofit aimed at helping those who protect America.

The mission of Shannon's organization is a simple one - support military children and families facing injury, loss and deployment. Helping Hands For Freedom aims to improve the lives of children through compassion, honor, mentorship and leadership programs.

"I really enjoy helping those who are in need," Shannon said.

Paul Gable is the editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Gable on Twitter @PaulGableTSN.