Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Randy M Keiper

Dallas, Oregon

March 1, 2012

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
50 Army SSG

Army & Oregon National Guard

 1980 to 2005. Served in Iraq.

For Some Memorial Service Snapshots, Click photo below:

March 8, 2012

From The Polk Count Itemiser-Observer polkio.com 04/07/10:

Vet, daughter receive fresh start
DALLAS -- Two weeks ago, everything Iraq war veteran Randy Keiper and his 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, owned could fit in a motel room -- with space to spare.
Jolene Guzman
April 07, 2010

DALLAS -- Two weeks ago, everything Iraq war veteran Randy Keiper and his 9-year-old daughter, Bailey, owned could fit in a motel room -- with space to spare.

Today, Keiper, 48, has a home, a car and people he considers family in Dallas.

"I didn't expect to get help this soon or to this degree," Keiper said Thursday, April 1, as he moved into a new apartment in Dallas.

Keiper had another family eight years ago. He was sharing his life with Bailey's mom, Pam Stevenson. Their life was interrupted when Stevenson was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

She died when Bailey was just 2.

Mere months later Keiper was sent to Iraq with the Oregon Army National Guard, leaving Bailey with family members.

He served a little more than a year and suffered only a concussion in a mortar attack. Keiper said his experience in Iraq was more psychological -- and so were his wounds. Keiper said he is forever changed.

"The Randy I knew doesn't exist anymore," he said, adding he feels that he left a piece of himself, his personality, on the streets of Baghdad.

He denied the signs and a warning from a friend of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning home. He had to care for Bailey. Keiper stepped from soldier to single father without taking a breath.

Not to be ignored, PTSD took its toll. In time, Keiper struggled in his job with the Oregon Department of Transportation and relatives noticed a change in his personality. He had nightmares and trouble sleeping, but he pushed it off.

"I'll be all right," Keiper said was his attitude at the time. "I just got to get though it."

As hard as he tried, he couldn't keep his life together. He lost his job a little over a year ago and his family -- lacking understanding of his condition -- offered no support.

Keiper took his daughter to California and nearly ran out of money. He decided to come back home to Oregon and stay with a friend. After three weeks, Keiper moved to the Riverside Inn in Dallas.

With just enough money for one more night in the motel, Keiper walked across the street to Community Action Dallas (formerly the Dallas Resource Center) searching for help.

There, he met P.J. Johnson, who after hearing his story, called upon local churches and organizations for assistance. Within days, Keiper was enrolled in a housing program allowing him to pay rent based on his income, awaiting disability benefits and attending counseling for service-related PTSD. Donations furnished the entire two-bedroom apartment.

"It just amazes me how giving Dallas is," Johnson said. "This couldn't happen in a big city."

Keiper has something to add to that: "If it weren't for her (Johnson), I wouldn't be here."

Last week, the housewarming party included planning for decorating Bailey's room. She beamed when she talked about her decorating theme: puppies and kittens. Bailey said she is glad to have a real home.

"It feels good because everything is brand new," Bailey said.

The father-and-daughter team's new life won't be without challenges. Keiper still has to fight a constant battle with PTSD and possible additional health issues stemming from his service. But now he says he and his daughter have help and hope. More than once as people who would have been strangers just days before helped him set up a home and a new life, Keiper's eyes brimmed with tears.

"I've got a new family here now," he said.

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