Army Pfc. Justin Kalenits of the 173rd Airborne Brigade was released from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. today, after 18 months of treatment. In November of 2007, Kalenits was severely injured in an ambush in the Waygol Valley of Afghanistan. Six members of his 12-man patrol were killed during the attack.
Last summer, Kalenits, originally from Geneva, OH, was in New York for an operation at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Gregory F. Burke, Garden City resident and president of Lane Office, learned of his visit through The New York Sky Soldiers, a not-for-profit organization that provides support to veterans and their families.
Burke organized four days of activities for Kalenits and his mother, Sue Tewksbary, while they were in town, including a trip to the Statue of Liberty, a visit to City Hall, and a tour of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit Eight Truck in Brooklyn. “We had so much fun in New York,” Tewksbary said. “Justin loved it.”
“I had a great time. Greg hooked me up with a lot of great stuff,” Kalenits said of his host. Burke was proud to entertain the family, and was pleased to hear that Kalenits is being discharged from the hospital.
Now that Kalenits has completed the majority of his treatment, he’s making plans to enroll in college. He’s also looking forward to playing lead guitar in a band. Burke is hoping to visit Kalenits this summer and congratulate him in person on his recovery.