A New Hampshire National Guardsman who was injured in Iraq in March is out of a coma and is scheduled to start rehabilitation by the end of the month, according to a website chronicling his progress.
Staff Sergeant Jose Pequeno, 32, the police chief from Sugar Hill, has started squeezing doctors' hands when they call to him, said Pequeno's wife, Kelley. He also opens his eyes and makes sounds.
``Jose is still vocalizing. We haven't heard any new words but he does like to make noise!" said a posting Tuesday on a website geared to family and friends.
Pequeno had been in a coma since March 1, when his Humvee was struck by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Ramadi. He will soon be discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and taken to a rehabilitation center in Tampa, Fla., for patients with traumatic brain injuries.
But doctors have told Kelley Pequeno not to expect 100 percent recovery. When her husband first arrived in a Maryland military hospital, Kelley said, she was told he would probably be in a vegetative state if he lived; now, doctors have said to expect a 90 percent recovery.
Kelley Pequeno said she has met three people at Walter Reed with brain injuries similar to her husband's. All recovered, although they talk more slowly now, she said. One is still in the Army. The other two never regained use of their left arms, she said.
``The hope and faith is definitely there after seeing these guys," she said.
Meanwhile, volunteers in Pequeno's hometown of Lisbon are pushing forward with plans to sell his house and build him a wheelchair-accessible home next door. The old house is freshly painted and nearly ready to go on the market, said Allan Clark, who is leading the ``Bring Jose Home Project."
A dance held recently at Cannon Mountain brought in $8,000 for the project, Clark said. So far, $90,000 has been raised; the project has a budget of $150,000. Two more fund-raisers are scheduled this month.