Veteran thought combat was in his past – until COVID-19

Fernando Vizcarrondo reunited with his family after spending 55 days away from home

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A veteran spent 55 days away from home, combatting COVID-19, before he was reunited with his family on Tuesday.

It was an emotional day at Orange Park Medical Center as Fernando Vizcarrondo was released from rehab.

“Outstanding, happy, relaxed,” he said.

Fernando Vizcarrondo, a pilot and Navy veteran of 20 years, served in the Iraq War, stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. He said he thought combat was in his past until – COVID-19.

“I still have a long road ahead of me,” he said.

Fernando Vizcarrondo said he was at the beach on March 25. The next day, he was at the emergency room.

The 46-year-old began experiencing a fever and shortness of breath. He was in the intensive care unit in an induced coma for three weeks.

“Totally confused because, I turn on the TV and you see a bunch of squares and people working from home, civilian clothes, not suits that you’re used to seeing them in. That took me by surprise. Then my dates were all off, so I was all confused," Fernando Vizcarrondo said.

When Fernando Vizcarrondo was brought to an inpatient rehabilitation center, he could not walk, nor could he talk. Twelve days later, he was walking and talking, thanking doctors and nurses at Orange Park Medical Center for bringing him back to his family.

Fernando Vizcarrondo said he’s going to try to regain that lost time with his father.

“It’s hard without him,” Fernando Vizcarrondo said. “We’re just going to try to be with him as much as we can and just help him a lot with whatever he needs.”

He’s also going to spend time with his three sons.

“It’s been really boring without him at home, and with this outbreak, it’s really bad,” said his youngest son, Adrian Vizcarrondo.

For nearly eight weeks, Fernando Vizcarrondo’s sons spent time with him in unconventional ways.

“We usually go over there and watch him by the window,” Adrian Vizcarrondo said.

But now, after winning a war on an enemy unseen, Fernando Vizcarrondo can move forward alongside his sons and wife.

“Just feeling like a family again – we have felt like we have missed a part of us, a part of our family and our home,” he said.

Fernando Vizcarrondo added he lost about 30 pounds and knows he still has a long road ahead with recovery.

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