Ryan Curry is an Iraq veteran who does charity work through his group “Beneath the Beard,” which was formed to help military veterans with PTSD.

On Tuesday, some of Curry’s colleagues from the Rockford firefighter’s union invited him out to Old Chicago for lunch.

“I was getting a hold of some other people with the fundraising things we were doing, and a police officer came in and said someone had hit my car,” said a surprised Curry.

What started as a white lie ended with a wounded Marine vet receiving a much needed pickup truck. 

The Rockford Firefighters Local 413 raises money each year to purchase cars for wounded vets, and Curry was this year’s winner.

“I got wounded in Iraq in 2006, August 30th,” Curry said. “I hit and IED and I hit a lot of them. So, that was my 7th concussion within 30 days, so I had some damage to my frontal lobe. The final time I hit, I put some shrapnel in my body, and severed by ear drums.”

Curry’s mission didn’t end in Iraq. He learned that, in order to help himself, he had to help others.

“I felt that this natural, little part of us that helps us, mentally helping somebody else, and that kind of catches on, and that’s where it has kind of gone from,” he said.

“He’s got a huge heart and is well deserving of this vehicle,” said Fireman Christopher Scrol. “I wish we could do more for him.”

Curry’s work with the department involves charity work, collecting donations and delivering them to the people who need them. Over the past few months, firefighters noticed that he was making multiple pick-up runs in his old car.

“We raised close to 80 turkeys, and I delivered them to all the veterans in hospice care and people who are in need,” Curry said. “It takes a lot of trips in my old vehicle, so I can load the back of [the new pickup truck] with Christmas gifts.”

“It was important for us to touch base with Ryan and acknowledge his service, and the sacrifice he made,” Scol said. “And not just the sacrifice he made, but when he got back from being deployed [in the military] and dealt with his personal issues and injuries, he continues to serve the community in a capacity that’s just inspiring.”

To help Curry in one of the many causes he is involved in, visit beneaththebeard.org