An army soldier severely injured in Afghanistan this summer was presented with the Purple Heart on Tuesday (Dec. 20) at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Palo Alto, where he has been undergoing rehab since September.
The ceremony for Sgt. Brian Jergens, 23, was held in front of his family and close friends. His commander, Capt. Scott Weeman, presented him with the award. Also in attendance was his comrade Sgt. Ben Stehman, as well as members of the Northern California Patriot Guard Riders and Blue Star Moms.
"It was a really nice ceremony," his wife, Jennifer Jergens, said. "It was last minute but it worked out really well."
Jergens was injured when a humvee he was driving hit a roadside bomb on Aug. 7. Stehman, who was riding in the humvee, suffered broken legs. But Jergens, who lost both legs and suffered severe traumatic brain injury, bore the brunt of the attack.
The incident happened eight months after Jergens was deployed to Afghanistan. Prior to that, he was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas, where he lived with his wife of one year.
Jennifer Jergens, a 19-year-old native of Santa Clara and student at De Anza College in Cupertino, now takes care of her husband. The couple does not have children.
"I'm mostly just really proud of Brian. He's been improving constantly. He's really just beaten all the odds," she said.
She said they are planning to leave the VA Medical Center to go to another rehab facility in California in about a month.