UPDATED: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - 10:56am
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) -- There was a homecoming, Tuesday, for a wounded warrior, who's battle had yet to end.
He, his family, and their attorney, have reported his own wife to state and federal agencies for allegedly embezzling his veteran's benefits.
Dennis Cabanting, 38, is now back in St. Louis from Hawaii.
His mother, Julieann Najar, said when she found him there a month ago, he couldn't lift his head; couldn't speak intelligently. So, she stayed there fighting for that moment, Tuesday, a moment to treasure at Lambert Airport.
'I feel that I`m not worthy of all the praise,' Cabanting said.
The few dozen flag-bearing patriots waiting for his arrival just outside the 'C' concourse, felt otherwise; giving him a standing ovation as he wheeled past in his wheelchair.
'Welcome home,' said members of the Patriot Guard Riders and other supporters as they shook his hand.
Julie Vinnedge was among those there. Sadly, there was no such homecoming for her son, a Marine. He died in the line of duty in Afghanistan.
'When I found out she was bringing home her son, an 18 year veteran, there was nothing that was going to keep me away today,' Vinnedge said.
Cabanting, an Army gunner, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a road-side bomb explosion 6 years ago in Iraq. He later developed MS.
His mother said his battle never ended.
He was living in a veteran's home in Hawaii. His mother said a woman met and married him there, then took control of his benefits, as Dennis languished and his condition worsened.
'He was drooling. He didn`t make any sense. He couldn`t write. He could only make 'x`s'. He was very spacey. It just wasn`t my son,' Najar said. 'She had been taking anywhere from $4000 – $6000 a month, and squirreling it away into a private account for herself and Dennis is living on $200 a month in a VA home… he didn`t go anywhere. She bought herself a new truck but Dennis couldn`t go with her because it wasn`t wheelchair accessible.'
Najar is the founder of the group, A Soldier`s Wish List, which sends "wished-for" packages to troops overseas. She was honored as a "hero" by President Obama and Major League Baseball, during the All-Star Game in St. Louis in 2009.
Cabanting's wife has not been charged with any wrong-doing. There are currently no legal judgments against her.
Volunteers raised money so he could return to visit his children from an earlier marriage, in July of 2011. They live in Nebraska. He hasn`t seen them since.
His mother said he`d been cut off from all family outside of Hawaii, until a lawyer had 'power of attorney' for Dennis, taken away from his wife.
After spending the past month in Hawaii handling legal affairs, Najar brought him back to St. Louis.
The 'Homes for Heroes' Foundation is making her house wheelchair friendly. Home Depot donated nearly $2000 in supplies to build a deck and ramp leading into the house.
Most importantly, Dennis seems like Dennis again. He was joking around, laughing, and smiling at the airport.
'He can write. He can put his shoes on and tie his shoes again,' Najar said.
'Yeah, I definitely feel like I`ve got a chance to start all over; which I really need,' Cabanting said.
'A mother`s love runs so deep. We`ll do anything for our children. We just have to support our military,' Vinnedge said. 'To be able to see his smile, it is amazing.'
'I`m just glad to be back,' Cabanting grinned.
He was back in more ways than one