I want to make sure the story of a Sleepy Eye family that aired on the national edition of Morning Edition on Thursday doesn’t get lost.

It’s the story of Robert Sprenger, whose Humvee was blown up in Iraq. He spent months in the hospital and when he made it back to Sleepy Eye, he and his mother made a surprising discovery, according to National Public Radio.

The government compensated him, but his mother says the money wasn’t anywhere near enough to cover his family’s expenses. So Sprenger and his family swallowed their pride, as a growing number of veterans have done, and went cyberbegging: They posted their story on a Web site and asked strangers to help.

“That was the most horrible-est thing,” says Robert’s mother, Vicky Sprenger. But she says they had no choice. “I wouldn’t ever cut the Army down for any reason whatsoever,” she says. “I just think … it kind of stinks, you know, that we do have to struggle the way we do.”

A Web site, USA Together, publicizes the needs of similar families.

The request from Specialist Sprenger goes far beyond any current definition of “touching.”

I am Specialist Robert Sprenger and I was wounded in Iraq. I was a gunner in a humvee that was hit by an IED. I was burned on 40% of my body. One week before my injuries, my sister was diagnosed with Bipolar/Borderline personality disorder and put in placement. Since then my mom lost her job in Nov and had to take a job at the local grocery store making $8.50 an hour with no insurance. She had taken too much time off from her previous job taking care of me and my sister. She spent three months down in San Antonio (BAMC) taking care of me. Due to her job situation we have fallen behind on our monthly bills. My mom has sacrificed a lot to help me. I am still on Medhold waiting for a discharge from the Army. When I am better, I will be able to help our family.

He requested a washing machine. Mission accomplished. They’ve got one now.

Tara H needs help with her mortgage:

My squad was working out of Baghdad on Valentine’s Day 2006, when an IED ripped through the passenger side door of my truck and the super heated shrapnel almost completely severed my right leg about six inches above my knee. My assistant squad leader saved my life and the rest of the injured soldiers in my vehicle. After resuscitation in the Blackhawk and again in the operating room, the doctors later determined that I suffered slight brain damage from lack of oxygen during these events. After countless surgeries in theater, and here in the USA I was fittted with a prosthesis. I am still unable to walk well due to balance and improper bone growth.

My husband was flown out of Iraq with me when I was injured, but is currently deployed back to the region. In the future, I plan on finishing my degree in business administration and owning a small business centered around pets.

Privately, a high ranking official in the American Legion calls the soldiers’ need to go cyberbegging “pathetic,” according to the story.

  • I really don’t think that what these soldiers are doing is “pathetic.” I too recently found myself in a pretty tight financial situation and decided to check out the cyber begging sites. However, after reading the desperate pleas of single mothers and broke college students begging for student loan repayment, I decided that instead of begging, I would offer. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not here to offend or put down anyone who has resorted to cyber begging. I think it is a brilliant idea and just another example that people who are struggling need to be resourceful. I really feel for the people behind the stories that I’ve read. However, I just think that if you can offer something for money before begging for it, than you should begin there. That’s where The Smile Site comes in. I created The Smile Site when I was feeling really down and out about my financial situation. I was burnt out from working three jobs and trying to find ways to cut costs. I realized that not only did I need to find a way to make some extra cash, but I needed to find a reason to smile again. I created The Smile Site to help me with just that. My motto is, “Smiles are Contagious! Help Me Infect The World!” Please visit my site at to find out how you can not only help put a smile back on my face, but help me infect the world with smiles as well.

    For those of you in need yourself, and looking into cyber begging. I wish you the best of luck. As for me, I think that when the going gets tough, you need to get creative. If at all possible, think of something that you can offer to the world. You never know what the world may give you in return. I can’t say I’ve been able to pay my bills with my income from The Smile Site just yet, but I won’t give up and I will keep smiling. I hope you will do the same! 🙂

  • Bob Collins

    I think the “pathetic” comment referred not to the people doing the “begging,” but the system in place that forced them to.

  • Nice article…With the way the economy is people are seeking help online. So I offer more than just a website to come post your story on your own webpage. We have online job search, a very nice members area for the postings and live open chat “The Family Room” where everyone is welcomed to come meet and greet. The website is also very friendly and entertaining so feel free to visit us

  • Please hear out my genuine plea and step up if you can. A bit will do to give us hope. Thank you and may everyone leads their lives contented and happy.