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An honor on Military Appreciation Day

| 04 May 2017 | 03:28

It was no ordinary pitch. Marine Corps Reserve veteran Sharon Einbinder of West Milford was chosen to throw out the first pitch Saturday, as Seton Hall’s softball team played Butler.
“It was so overwhelming for me; I couldn’t believe how grateful they are for my service,” she said, “They treated me like royalty.”
It was a great honor, she said, and all the more meaningful, since the Marine Reserve Officer had not had any “welcome home” ceremony when she returned from active duty in Iraq.
When Einbinder deployed to Iraq in 2005, she was the lone person from her unit, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron, detachment B in Newburgh, N.Y., where she had worked since 1992, to be assigned to deploy with a unit from Virginia. Einbinder was an avionics officer — she dealt with communication and navigation systems in helicopters when stationed at Al Assad Airbase in Iraq. Shortly after she arrived, she said, the base came under mortar attacks, three times a day, for an entire month.
While there, Einbinder developed sleep disorders; insomnia and sleepwalking. Those ailments continued when she returned to the states. She also had panic attacks and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She had accidents and one evening, in Jan. 2009, while sleepwalking, she fell down a spiral staircase at her home in Rockaway, N.J. A trip to the hospital the next day brought 18 stitches and a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.
Ultimately, Einbinder was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as Chief warrant officer 2 in 2009. By 2016, because of her disabilities, she had to quit working as an audiologist and hearing aid dispenser. She had worked at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, and later at VA facilities in Lyons and East Orange.
She has an indomitable positive spirit, though. She moved back to her hometown of West Milford, and now lives with her parents and beloved golden retriever, Nikki. She joined the local VFW Post 7198 and participates in talks at local schools, upkeep at Memorial Park and fundraising with poppies for the VFW. She is adjutant for the post and recently was unanimously elected as chaplain for District One, Passaic County by the district post commanders. She is looking forward to her duties as chaplain.
“It’s an honor for me because I would deal with family members who lose their veterans and I feel that I can comfort someone,” she said.
When she returned from overseas, Einbinder joined the Wounded Warrior Project, which, working with Seton Hall University, arranged for her to go to certain events, including a basketball game at the university. There, she met Dan Ditusa from the Athletics Marketing Department at Seton Hall, who made arrangements for her to attend a softball game this spring. There she would throw out the first pitch.
Being offered the honor of first pitch, and on Military Appreciation Day, was an extraordinary experience.
“First pitch — it was fantastic. Oh my God, I was so overwhelmed that day,” she said.
Einbinder’s sister and her boyfriend and a friend were there to share the day. In addition to throwing the first pitch, Einbinder received gifts from Seton Hall and from supporters from the local ROTC, including clothing with the team and ROTC logos.
Einbinder is positive about the future. Living with her parents has benefits for all, Einbinder said.
“They take care of me and I take care of them.”
Thank you for your service, Sharon Einbinder.