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Fort Hood hero plans bigger benefit for veterans and families

April 2 was an emotional day for Maj. Patrick Miller.

It was three years to the day since the Allegany native faced down a killer who shot and killed three other soldiers before shooting Miller in the abdomen at Fort Hood, Texas. He was one of 16 to survive the mass shooting.

"Hard to believe it's been three years," he tweeted on the day.

Since that day he looks forward to celebrating life with friends and family every summer at the Allegany Knights of Columbus with a pig roast and mini-fundraiser for Wounded Warriors. This year, with more things to be grateful for, he is replacing the mini-fundraiser with a larger benefit concert July 23 at Allegany Firemen's Park and parade grounds.

"I guess it did morph from a smaller localized benefit for Wounded Warriors, taking donations, to a much larger event with the intent to increase the scope and ultimate impact for both Wounded Warrior and homeless veterans," he said.

It's been an eventful year. Since Miller and his wife, Ashley, were home last June, Ashley gave birth to their now 10-month-old daughter, and his mother, Carole, was diagnosed and just finished treatment for multiple myeloma.

"She is an inspiration," Miller said of his mother. "My dad said, 'Your mom gets her strength from you. I said, 'No Dad, it's quite the opposite.' "

When Miller was recovering from the gunshot wound, his parents stayed at the Fisher House, which provides military families with housing so they can be close to a loved one who is sick. That's why half the funds raised from the benefit concert will go to the Fisher House through Wounded Warriors and and half will go to the Homes for Our Troops Foundation.

Miller was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest noncombat honor for valor, for his actions at Fort Hood that saved lives. And he wants to make a larger impact in the life of veterans and their families.

While he recovered from the bullet that tore through his abdomen, Miller still suffers its effects. He was in the hospital last week from complications caused by scar tissue that built up from his surgeries, something he has been told will continue to occur throughout his life.

And he was planning some of the last-minute details from his hospital bed last week for the all-ages benefit concert he is hosting, featuring the country band Parmalee, along with Chris Higbee and the Hootz at 2 p.m. July 23 at Allegany Firemen's Park.

"Planning something from 6,000 miles away is a challenge in itself," he said. "I've had a lot of help."

In addition to signed memorabilia from the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and St. Bonaventure, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly and former Buffalo Sabre Andrew Peters will be there, as well as Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Miller is chief financial officer at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, where he expects to be stationed for another year.

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