Iraq War Veteran

Earl Fraizer was born and raised in New York City’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhood: Brownsville, Brooklyn. After joining the Army, Earl was deployed into forward combat operations in Afghanistan.

“I was clearing a room for bombs when he (the insurgent) jumped from behind the door and gutted me with a bayonet.” Earl’s military records state that he was severely wounded in combat, despite not receiving a Purple Heart (the medal awarded exclusively to combat-wounded service members.

“I didn’t do it for medals. I was home. that’s all that mattered.” 

—Earl Frazier, Iraq War Veteran

Seen right is Earl Frazier, Coach of Team-Rock, youth basketball league in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY.

Coach Earl Frazier with Team Rock, the Brooklyn based basketball team.

VRL contacted the Purple Heart Foundation of America, who explained: “No U.S. soldier has been bayoneted since the Vietnam War. All wounded personnel are sent to the NATO hospital in Germany, where they are registered by the administrative branch to ensure they’re awarded the Purple Heart.”

It was later discovered that because Earl’s wound was so severe, the on-scene medical evacuation team chose an alternative medical facility. A decision that led to a variety of detours that bypassed Germany altogether. By the time he was home, Earl just wanted to move on with his life.

Despite the missing award, the VA still acknowledged Earl’s injury and provided a service-connected disability rating–(a stipend given to vets suffering damage that will limit their employment options permanently). Instead of accepting limitations, Earl enrolled at St. John’s University and is completing a PHD in Psychology, using the Post-911 GI-Bill.

When not in school, Earl also coaches a youth basketball team: “When I was a kid, everyone knew Rock–the Brownsville gangster. I was too young to know why everyone feared him, but Rock took care of the neighborhood kids. He taught us how to play basketball and built a court so we could practice.

The truth is, without Rock, a lot of kids would’ve ended up in jail or died young. I was always grateful to him.” But when Earl returned from the war, he learned that Rock was shot and killed in the street. Earl spent his VA stipend to pick up where Rock left off. He is now the proud coach of TEAM-ROCK  Brooklyn Youth Basketball team. The undefeated Brownsville league is comprised of boys, ages 12 to 14, all from the same neighborhood Earl grew up in.

Inspired by his dedication, Veterans Rebuilding Life was honored to become the official sponsor of TEAM ROCK, designing and producing the required uniforms for the Brooklyn champions to compete with registered basketball leagues across the city. Earl is above surrounded by members of Team Rock, he is now an active member of Veterans Rebuilding Life, responsible for VRL’s youth initiatives.