FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project organization took President Coolidge’s words to heart when it began shipping packages to deployed medical units nearly three years ago.
“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” – Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States
Just a few months after troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, arrived in Iraq, Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, of the Black Jack Brigade, began receiving packages from the Virginia-based non-profit organization.
“Trauma” Company’s top non-commissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Anthony Pena, said he didn’t even have to ask about getting things when his unit first arrived to Forward Operating Base Falcon last fall. The packages just started arriving.
Most of the items are geared toward comforting Soldiers who had been injured or become sick. Items like DVD players, DVDs, shorts, shirts and blankets began arriving to the aid station. Along with the “comfort” items, valuable medical supplies like “scrubs” and desk-reference books arrived on an almost weekly basis, even after the medical company moved from FOB Falcon earlier this year.
Pena said that he receives e-mails from the president of the organization, Karen Grimord, asking what his company’s needs and wants are. He was amazed that many of the things they ask for are obtained quite quickly.
“All my Soldiers know when I get a box from Karen,” Pena said. “They all gather around for me to open it.”
Pena said that getting items like the uniforms puts less strain on his supply system. He observed that nothing sent to him ever goes to waste. He notices his Soldiers wearing the gifts almost daily while working in the clinic.
Spc. Lisa Beasley, an East St. Louis, Ill., native with Company C, said that although uniforms like the scrubs are essential to her daily routine, it’s more the thought that counts.
“Some people spend a lot of money helping us Soldiers out,” Beasley said. “It makes it more special when you know it comes from the heart.”
Beasley and the rest of the medics, doctors, nurses and techs use scrubs on a daily basis while working in the clinic. Beasley said that many people envy the teams there because scrubs keep your body much cooler during the hot Iraqi summer.
Grimord said that she even made a special shipment of pink scrub tops for all the girls working in the clinic in celebration of Valentine’s Day this past February.
Pena said that although nothing goes to waste, not all of it gets used by his clinic. His company donates some items like clothing and linens to local nationals who live on the base.
According to the group’s quarterly newsletter published on their website, more than 24,000 pounds of supplies have been shipped down range since the project began in 2004.
Karen Grimord began the small-time operation after visiting Ramstein Air Force Base. She returned to America and with help from her family and a group of Boy Scouts from Alabama, gathered hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes to send to service members recuperating at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
She remained in contact with the chaplain at the center and asked what else she could do for the Soldiers.
Now the organization has grown. The organization has many corporate and civic sponsors ranging from two dozen American Legion posts to Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) posts to large corporations, and that doesn’t include hundreds of individual and family sponsors listed on the website.
In February, Grimord was called to the White House to visit the President and receive special thanks from him for all the organization’s efforts to support service members abroad.
After more than 500 pounds of clothing and supplies have been shipped to the Black Jack Troops stationed in Iraq, Grimord said that she and Pena have become good friends and hope to continue working together in the future.