It has been a long cold rainy day and I am tired and this is going to be short. We had a lot of flights today and a lot of patients. Several arrived at the emergency room entrance so you know that they are in serious condition.
The staff has not been able to get to the warehouse for two days and so my mission to get items down range has been put on hold. I did manage to go through some bins here and clear out the outdated toothpaste, lotion and mouthwash. Some of the lotion had expiration dates of 1990 so you know that someone set it in that way. We got a donation today of used men’s deodorant. I know that men are different than women but REALLY why would you think that someone would use your used deodorant?
I worked 10 hours today in thanks to Barbara.
GOOD NIGHT, going home. Oh, a cast sock went out today. The new owner was from Georgia and the cast sock maker was from Georgia, but forgive me I am too tired to remember who that is.
Most of the troops that come in to the WWMC tell me they no longer watch the news. After my visit to the wards today to deliver pillows I now really have an understanding about why our contacts ask me not to listen to the news.
I turned off the news about two years ago. Other than local happenings, what I happen to hear on the radio or what Brian or our contacts tell me about, I just don’t know about it. There are several reasons behind it, but I know while in Bosnia that a group of people could be in the same area and all could witness the same action and then there will be the media spin. We used to watch the news crews do a report and wonder how they could say what they did. I find it interesting to hear what other countries and their countrymen have to say about the U.S. and our people. The news tells us that our president stands alone in his beliefs, but today I found out the very strong beliefs of a Romanian. Holly, another volunteer and I dragged two very large bags of pillows up to the wards to distribute. The pillows were all patriotic in nature. I introduced myself and asked him if he would like a handmade pillow. He said he would. I asked him if there was a particular pillow from our bags that he saw that he liked. He choose one right away. He wanted the one with the American flag all over it. He took it and said this would remind him of his brothers in arms. He said it with such gusto and pride that you wanted to stand at attention. He said that it was a small item but his sisters, (American sisters) had made it for him and he was proud to have it. He told me that when the towers fell he was extremely pissed off. He said that this was not an attack against one country, but many. He said that he has felt love and care since being at LRMC. That he has been well taken care of. His leg was extremely messed up but he said that he wants to go back now to be with his brothers in arms and take out those $%^#. I told him that he had to get well first and then fight the battle another day. But he said “NO.” He wants to go back now, that he is very determined and very strong and can do what needs to be done. I could not believe the determination and dedication in this man who was not a U.S. citizen, who’s country was not attacked, who lost no family members on 9-11, who had never visited the United States. I stood at the foot of this man’s bed and thought to myself how can members of our own country be ready to forget and ignore the happenings of today and yet this man is determined to fight a battle that was not waged on his soil? He thanked us several times for the pillow and for clothing he received from the WWMC and told me his family will be coming in tomorrow. I am so glad to know that this man was fighting along side our troops. I have no doubt that they were well taken care of with him by their side.
I also meet a young man outside today that you might not have spoken to if you were a normal human being. But I have been told that I am a little strange and not in the normal range. He was sitting at the bus stop. There was a large crowd out there, but no one was talking to him. They were all in their own conversations laughing and joking. Then I noticed he was twitching. His head, his arm, his leg all at different times were going and going. I asked him how his day was going, not if he was all right and he said he had better ones. I told him that we all go through our good and bad days. He told me that he had been hit by an IED and ever since then he has been twitching. They are now sending him back to the States to find out why. This kid is not going back to Walter Reed, but to a VA hospital for treatment. Now you want to hear the amazing part. He is 27, married, and he and his wife are foster parents. He and his wife have adopted four of their foster children, because they did not think they could have children. Then they found out she was pregnant. He says the most amazing part is to go into Wal-mart and have the foster kids he did not adopt come up to him and see how much they have grown and have them say “Hi, Mr. xxx.” He says the worse part of the IED blast is not the blast but that everyone now looks at him like he is crazy. Think about it. How many times have you walked past someone that was had a head tick or was jerking an arm and did not speak to them because YOU felt uncomfortable? Can you imagine how THEY must feel? I told him to give that wife of his a really big hug for the wonderful gift she gave those kids. I gave him a big hug and told him that he was an amazing young man and I was very proud of him and that I hoped that the twitching went away quickly for him. We have over 100 members and adding this young man to your prayer list tonight would not hurt in sending up 100 new prayers for him and his wife.
Today I worked 12 hours thanks to Sheri Farmer and her contribution to my trip.
Today started really slow. It took me 50 minutes to make a 15-minute trip just to get to the hospital. Traffic was terrible.
Most of the morning was spent sorting, folding and preparing phone cards for patients. I was invited to go to the in-briefing of the new patients. This is something that I have never done before so I jumped at the opportunity.
We first went to where the patients are now being offloaded from the buses. The emergency room entrance is under construction, so unless a patient is critical they do not unload there right now. The first bus was for those patients that could walk. These patients can be everything from sports injuries to female problems. The second bus started to unload with litter patients and I was standing about 30 feet from the back of the bus and could see all them. They all looked in good shape and were looking around. I was wondering what each patient must have been thinking as they were welcomed by the chaplain and then by their liaison, then nurses and then off into the hospital. Some were only on litters because the trip was more comfortable for them to travel that way and so they were moved to wheelchairs once out of the way of others being unloaded.
As I was standing there the first patient had a handmade quilt covering him. The second patient had an Army wool blanket. Then the lump in my throat grew and I had to swallow very hard. It was not because the patient coming off the bus was on a lot of machines or seriously wounded. It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at and why the emotion. Then it hit me. One of our thermal weave blankets came off with a patient. I had been there to see the full circle of our love and the warmth of the patient. I am glad I was standing by myself and the liaison that had invited me had moved to help his patient because the fourth patient off the bus was covered by another of our thermal weave blankets. I see our items go out of the WWMC since LHCP has started, but to know that these blankets left Virginia and went into Iraq and Afghanistan and had made their way back to LRMC with a patient was a new feeling for me. A patient’s warmth is very important and we did it with the help of Standard Textile. We have another 2,800 pounds being delivered on 10/10 and Karen is shipping more blankets out right now but we need your help with shipping costs, so please remember that even if it is $1 it helps to get those blankets downrange to these wounded.
I went back to the WWMC afterwards and thought my day could not get any more emotional, but as I helped a young female medic with some items she kept saying yes ma’am, yes ma’am, no ma’am. You know when you have that gut feeling that something is just not right. I knew it about her. I kept close to her and started talking softer about the items that she might need. Some you can joke and tease with. Others you have to be soft spoken and others you have to be mom with. Then it then happened. She just stood there, saying nothing and then the tears and of course a hug from me. We just stood there and hugged each other for a very long time. There were some other volunteers in the WWMC and I was hoping that one of them would volunteer a tissue but after a couple minutes one of the chaplain’s assistants came in and I turned to him while still hugging her and asked him if he could get us one. We went outside and talked. I noticed that she had a bracelet on for one of our contacts that was killed in action. I was looking for my connection with this patient and there it was in small print on her wrist. I told her that I knew Capt Ortiz. That she was one of our contacts at the CSH for shipping supplies. That I was sorry for her loss. She said she was there when Maria was brought in and that she had worked with her and that she was a good person, woman and nurse. She told me that she was at LRMC due to a back injury and she hurt her back by pulling a fellow troop out of a humvee. We talked a long time and I continued to let her know that she could not help her troops if she did not take care of herself first. After a while she was some better and we finished her bag and I walked her to the bus stop. We sat there a few minutes more and then the escort from Saturday came up. I asked him if he was going the same place she was and he was so I introduced them both and gave him the duty of making sure she got there ok. He is now the experienced one and she has someone to rely on and he has someone to be able to talk to also.
I worked 10.5 hours today in thanks to Judy O’Dell and her contribution to my trip.
Today started with last night actually. My bed did not cooperate and so I beat it most of the night. I am guessing with as much as I pulled on the blankets, beat the pillow and moved all around the bed and beat it to death that it will behave itself tonight and let me get some sleep. If not, I might have to set fire to it. :-0
The rest of my Monday was one of those Monday’s that you always think about when you say, “oh, your having one of those kind of Monday’s.” It was just a bunch of little things that never went right. Parking here is a nightmare. I went to park where I normally do and had to drive around and around and around. When I was on the opposite side someone pulled out and then just as I was getting ready to come up on it someone pulled into the parking lot ahead of me and pulled right into MY parking spot. Then around and around some more and then a woman came out and I sat and watched, Of course it took her 5 minutes to get the baby in and then the huge stroller in the back but I was not going to budge even if there was a car behind me. HA I got this one!
I went to go pick up the key in the office where we get them was closed for whatever reason. Not so bad, I can use the set the chaplain’s office has. Get to the chaplain’s office but there was no-one in the main office to get me the key.
Got into the clothing closet and I normally have the first couple hours to get it done up from the rush from the night before. But this morning we had two flights first thing and the normal progression of seeing their doctors then us did not happen so I got patients almost immediately.
It is also sad when you have to tell a patient that we do not have a certain item, so here is the current list. We are completely out of these items due to AAFES not fulfilling orders from the chaplain’s order. Medium white under shirts; large white under shirts; ankle socks; crew socks; tube socks; medium and large black or dark gray sweat pants; size 10 and 10 1/2 men’s tennis shoes; and men’s deodorant. I know there are probably more items, but those are at the top of my mind after fighting with my bed last night. If you know of any groups collecting $$ please suggest that they donate it through us so that we can purchase items needed. We can do bulk purchases and our turn around is quicker than AAFES which is how the WWMC is purchasing their items.
I had them bring in more items from the warehouse. So I got about 10 boxes out today with 6 more ready for tomorrow morning. It is difficult work to do since I am trying to recycle boxes that come in here. Most people send priority and those boxes cannot be used again. Others use cheap boxes and they are smashed, crushed and split before they even get here. Our boxes are good when they get here but are too big to be used for the large bottles of lotion, shampoo, bars of soap, conditioner or large toothpaste. I also have to pull off every stamp, label, and tape from any box I use. It is very time consuming.
We had more VIP’s come through today. Let me see if I can get this correct. They were congressman and woman that sit on the Armed Forces Services Committee. The chaplain came out and asked me if I would explain the operation of the WWMC. Several of them came up to me before I could start to thank me for my work there. Neil Abercromie from Hawaii and Madeleine Bordallo from Guam were the first. After I walked them through what we do Joe Wilson from South Carolina came up to me and showed me a picture of his son who was in a uniform and he thanked me for my work as a father of a serviceman. He said as a parent it meant a lot to him. Abercromie and Bordallo came up afterward and we had a really long talk about Hawaii and Guam since we lived on Guam and my son is on Hawaii. Abercromie asked my last name and how to spell it and where my son was. Let’s just say that if Jeremy needs anything I think he is now well taken care of.
We had a patient come in today that broke his leg while under fire. He was not shot, but broke it due to jumping off of something and the pallet he jumped on broke and he broke both the bones in his leg. Six or seven of the patients this week have injuries due to sports they were playing. Three were from them goofing off and getting hurt. One of the patients who came in this morning got in late last night. He decided to put on a short sleeve shirt and shorts. By the time he got in to see us from his 40-minute bus ride he was frozen. So don’t tell Brian but I dressed another one in the clothing closet today. 🙂
Most of the time the kids come in and they will take something that we have. They know that they need something but every once in a while you get someone that won’t take a thing because they want to save it for the next guy. We had one today. He waited for his buddy and the entire time he said he did not need anything. Well, the last time I had a patient tell me this it took me a while but he walked out with a pen. It was only a pen but he did not leave empty handed. Today I started with the same thing. Do you need boxers, t-shirts, a blanket and he would say no, no, no. I started with the toiletries. I usually start with mouthwash; dental floss and toe nail clippers because they usually always say yes. This guy was no, no, no. I was “oh, no” he is going to be difficult one. I told him “you will not leave here with out taking something so let’s try some more.” I went for my old standby of the pen, no. Cards to send home? No. Then I asked him if he had children? Yes. What sex? 3 girls. I told him he would have to send a little box home of gifts. I pulled out the little box of stuffed animals and he saw the Disney characters and he said, “oh yeah, I have to take 3 of these. This is where we went every year.” Then I showed him a handmade quilt with a log cabin and old farm tractors. That was a hit also. So I can say I have yet to fail. No one leaves the WWMC empty handed.
After everyone left I got a surprise visit from a very dear escort I met on Saturday. He looked good and we gave each other a very big hug. He is feeling much better and we had a talk and he said he did not know what got into him but he is feeling much better. He had a big smile on his face and looked like he had not had the same fight with his bed as I had with minE.
I worked 9.75 hours today thanks to Eileene Brady and her contribution to my trip.
I am going to combine the last couple of days into this post. I have been extremely busy. We have had several flights come in but not a lot of patients.
Most of my day is filled with sorting and packing boxes for down range. I want to explain why I have been doing this and why it is so important. LRMC receives items that LHCP posts on our web page as DO NOT SEND items. People and organizations decide they are going to send it anyways. For the reasons we have posted on our web page the troops will not take these items. Large bottles, tubes, multi packs are not used due to the short stays here. These items continue to pile up. They are then moved to a warehouse that does not belong to LRMC, but to another military organization. This surplus soared to 12 pallets of excess. Due to the storage space this takes up, LRMC was told to get rid of it. I was asked back in May for contacts down range that could use the supplies. I asked our contacts who needed the items and the quantities needed. I also opened it up to LHCP members contacts and others on the website. LRMC prepared the shipment. Called the military postal service to let them know that 12 pallets would be shipped. They gave them all the details. It was taken down and the pallets were dropped off. The next day the chaplains were asked to come back and pick it up. Due to regulations they were not able to ship it as it was. They checked with military lawyers and the German Red Cross is one of the organizations that they can give it to. I have been able to work with the patients and I can get the boxes out. So since my time is limited and I believe my time here was to help all our troops, even if there is down time between flights I work to get these supplies down range. Thursday 12 boxes went out, Friday 12 more boxes went out. After the 12 boxes went out on Friday I prepared 6 more boxes for Monday.
Today is Saturday but I went into work. I had not planned to but when you feel the draw to do something you just need to do it and you figure it out later. About 2 hours after I was at work a young man came out of the hospital and asked where the chaplains were. I asked him if he was looking for the chaplains clothing closet or a chaplain. He said chaplain. I know that we have on call chaplains but did not know if one was in. We went in to check and the hallway was dark. I checked the door and it was opened so someone had to be there. I found an assistant and told her that we were looking for a chaplain. I heard this sob behind me and when I turned around this man just let loose with the tears. I put my water bottle down and gave him a hug. He hugged my back. I told him everything was going to be OK. He told me he could not stop crying. I asked him if he wanted some water and he said yes. We went back outside. We talked about his trip to LRMC. He was an escort for another patient. He said he knew that it sounded stupid but he did not want to come to LRMC. He said it was so beautiful here. I told him that there is always a reason for everything in life, the people that you meet, and the places that you go. It is how you handle it that you determine. He told me again that he did not know why he could not stop crying, he had never done this before. I told him that crying relieves stress and maybe this trip to LRMC was want was needed for him even though he did not know that. I told him that I knew that every breath in Iraq zaps the energy from you due to the heat and the sand. He said it did, but when he left the states he knew he was set for a long road trip and that is how he prepares for it. I told him that this trip to LRMC was a renewal for him and time to refresh himself with new energy. He said that his men could not do the same. I told him that they could through him. It goes back to the taking from one another. I asked him if he ever had someone walk pass him in the hall way and say GOOD MORNING with a bright smile and it made him feel better and cheerful. He said yes. I asked him if he ever ran into someone who was grumpy and miserable and when he left he felt down also. He said he had. I told him that this maybe his opportunity to take back a renewed spirit to his guys and pass it around. Maybe he was sent to LRMC because he could pass the positive spirit better than someone else could.
He was from Kansas. I was born in Kansas. I only lived there 6 months. I know nothing about Kansas, other than it is flat. Anyone that knows me knows that I am about 5 10, this young man was about 6 foot. I asked him if they grew everyone tall in Kansas. He laughed a little. (HA break through). I asked him if he was married and he is and expecting a baby. We talked about the baby. We talked about his tours. We talked about a buddy from his high school that he met on the aircraft while escorting the patient who he did not know had joined the Air Force. When the chaplain finally caught up to us and they were walking inside to talk he turned around to say bye to me and he smiled. What a big improvement from the young man who did not understand his crying and was so upset. I hope to see him again.
The last two days have been have been to the thanks of my board members Rachel and Sharon and their contribution to my trip.
Today started good. I did not have to use my ID card to scrap the windshield. It had to be the most interesting day I have had since I have been here. I thought about my previous trips and was thinking that this trip was much different but did not put my finger on it until this week. I was not sure about it until today when I spoke with a doctor that has been here for about a year.
A troop’s injuries are serious to that troop and their family, and I am in no way making light of any of the injuries that I have seen, but since I have been here this trip the injuries are much less severe than those I have seen in the years past. I did not know if it was just me, this past week, so I asked a doctor working at LRMC. He said that the injuries are less severe. They used to work all night in the OR and now are finished by about 7. There are less wounded and less severely wounded troops. He said that he was not sure about the about the build up and thought it would just mean more injuries and lives lost but it seems to be working.
I have not seen the number of wounded that I saw in my last two working visits. There seem to be a lot of back and leg injuries, but just not the same as before. TBI injuries seem to have increased.
I will tell you that I met a kid today that is blessed to be walking among us. He told me he had just had enough of the bullets. Well, I was thinking I had enough of them in Bosnia and the land mines drove me just about crazy. I heard them going off all day and all night long but I did not go home because of it so there had to be more to his story. We got started talking and he said he was shot between the eyes. Shot between the eyes! Now I have to tell you he WALKED into the WWMC and the words came out of his mouth. No slurring or anything. I am sure that my mouth was probably hanging open not sure to believe this kid or not, until he lifted his skullcap and there it was, right between his eyebrows. I asked him if the bullet went from right to left and he said no it went straight in and had to be pulled out. Now I have to guess that it did not go in that far, but still, shot between the eyes!! I asked him if he knew how lucky he was and he said “yeah, that is what the doctor said, too.” We got talking about his family and he said that his family calls him “sniper” because he is a good shot and goes hunting in S.C. I think that is kind of strange nickname just for that reason but he said that they told him that it looked like “a sniper got the sniper.”
We need ankle socks. They work well with the guys in leg braces or wrapped legs that can’t wear socks up their leg but can wear a shoe. We have here. Please send them to Karen ASAP so that she can get them in the mail with some other items I have her mailing. If you wish to donate to the purchase of them post to the database and send a check to Sharon.
The NCOIC here has told me that I cannot leave. I have not figured out how to tell my husband that, yet, but they have decided to keep me here until the war is over. I told him I did not think that was possible. He pulled out his wallet and said he had $3 would that help. I am glad to know that I am a big help here, but I think LHCP can do more stateside and Brian might send out the search & recovery team if I did not come home. 🙂
Today I worked 9 hours thanks to James Spliedt and his contribution to my trip.
Today started at 32 degrees. I got out of my car and had to scrape the windows with my ID card. As I was doing it I was thinking that I hoped there were not a lot of flights with patients today because the guys were really cold last week and the temperature was not bad and today would be unbearable for them. Well we had 2 flights, but a low number of patients.
I spent most of the morning getting rid of excess supplies and packing them for down range again. They need a full-time person just to do this job for them. They have 6-9 pallets that are excess items that the troops will not use here but MPS will not take it the way that it is and so it must be done about 10 boxes at a time. With the Christmas rush coming and people again sending whatever items they wish to send they will be over flowing with items they cannot use. I wish we had a way of getting it on a flight to DC because our VA hospitals could use it ALL. What I don’t get out of here very soon will be turned over to German Red Cross.
For the love of two countries
This afternoon I went to the wards with the WWMC cart. Most of the wounds that I have seen this trip have been much less severe than the wounds I saw on my previous working trips.
Chuck Norris was in the hospital today visiting the wounded but we were not blessed with a visit. I talked to some of the liaisons and they did not get to see him either.
They said that they usually do not get to see the VIP’s. I don’t think that is a proper call on the VIP’s part as most of these liaisons work their butts off for these patients and deserve a huge pat on the back for their work. I can’t imagine how many miles they must walk every day getting patients to doctors, getting supplies, checking on med flights, etc for these patients and then not getting a visit in their trailer is just not right.
If you read my previous years blogs, you know that LRMC cares for all our allies fighting in OIF/OEF. We have had several Canadians in lately. When I went to the ward this afternoon the Canadian Chaplain was with one that had just arrived. He told me that he would make sure he had all the items he needed. Later in the afternoon I saw the chaplain and he told me he lost the patient. At first I thought he meant lost, like he had died, then I realized he meant he had just lost him out of his room. He was told he went to x-ray. No Canadian. He was told another department and after checking there he realized his patient was missing. I told the chaplain that he must do a better job and not lose his charges. He agrees. After about 2 hours he came into the WWMC pushing his patient. I told him “I see you found him.” I looked at this young man in his early 30s and told him that when my kids did not report in or went astray that they always had a punishment and I would have to think about his. He smiled at me and said that his mom was the same but it was not his fault that he had to have an x-ray on his foot, then his knee, then his back. The other volunteer and the chaplain were deciding what to get for him and you could just tell he was freezing. I bent down and looked at him and said, “you’re cold, huh?” He said, “yes.” I said, “Well, instead of worrying about what to pack, why do we not just put it on you?” So I grabbed a sweatshirt and I put it over his head and we were real careful with the IV block still in his hand. I got a pair of breakaway pants that we sent and got his good leg in them and then snapped the other side on his casted leg as he sat in the chair. The chaplain and other assistant looked on but I have dressed several young men in the WWMC and so one more, what does it matter? I told the patient that I had dressed so many men in the WWMC that it would probably shock my husband. His leg was bandaged heavily and his little toes were sticking out so we looked for a little cast sock.
When I leave here we might be able to start shipping QUILTS only. The quilts that the guys are choosing off the shelf are red, white and blue, sports theme, and I had a kid ask me today for a Yankee quilt, no success. I had another one ask for a football one, but I only had basketball. NASCAR themes, outdoors themes are popular. I am pushing the blankets as much as possible to get LRMC to start requesting more, but if you want your quilt to move when it arrives here think about one of these themes. The quilts here are also about 4×4 and the patients say they are short. Is this a standard size for quilts? Patients want them to cover them but not be so long that they drag the ground in chairs or be too big for their bags. This is why our 3×5 works well , except for the really big guys who take two quilts or use their woolly with a quilt. I think all of our pillows are gone. There might be 2 or 3 left, but I will check the other storage room tomorrow to look for more pillows. If you are making pillowcases think about adding a LHCP label.
Today was another 10-hour day thanks to Susan Grey Waggoner and her contribution to my trip in tribute to her parent’s 60th anniversary.
By Dan Zak Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, September 16, 2007
Public approval of the war in Iraq has eroded steeply (down nearly 20 percentage points in the past three years), but the number of nonprofit groups striving to support service members grows every week. A host of local groups do quiet but essential work to help deployed troops and their families.
If you have ever wondered how you could send a care package or otherwise donate your time to members of the armed forces, here are some ways to do so:
START WITH AMERICA SUPPORTS YOU:
The one-stop volunteer smorgasbord. In November 2004, Allison Barber, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs at the Pentagon, conceived of and launched an umbrella wing of the department that would connect the country’s far-flung military support groups. America Supports You started with five featured nonprofits and is now a virtual warehouse of links to 300 such groups nationwide that tackle tasks from computer donations to phone card procurement. New nonprofits submit applications every week, Barber says.
Visit America Supports You online AmericaSupportsYou.mil and click on “Homefront Groups” for nonprofits sorted by mission or “Connect to Homefront Organizations in Your State.
FULFILL THE DREAMS OF MILITARY KIDS:
McLean resident Linda Davidson doesn’t have family in the military, but she started Our Military Kids two years ago after hearing that children who live far from military bases could not take advantage of programs offered there. “I had occasion to speak to a guardsman and his family in North Carolina,” says Davidson, the group’s executive director. “They felt so isolated and didn’t have access to a base. I thought, ‘We’re here in D.C. and have access to the government, so why not help kids to begin or continue sports and fine arts and tutoring?’ ”
Our Military Kids allows families to submit an application and a copy of the parent’s deployment orders to obtain funding for a particular endeavor (be it lessons in taekwondo or participation in sports leagues). The organization needs help with fundraising. Call 703-734-6654 or visit OurMilitaryKids.org.
DONATE FREQUENT-FLIER MILES:
The Rockville-based Fisher House Foundation, which provides temporary housing to family members visiting bases or military medical facilities, is partnered with Operation Hero Miles to allow frequent fliers to donate their miles online. The miles fund trips for service members on leave or for families visiting wounded relatives at a medical center. Since late 2003, troops have been able to use 175 million miles for trips. Visit FisherHouse.org and click on “Hero Miles” or go to the Hero Miles page.
STOCK THE SHELVES at Landstuhl and Walter Reed:
Troops who are seriously injured or who fall ill in Iraq or Afghanistan are often first sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southwestern Germany. The Virginia-based Landstuhl Hospital Care Project generally sends clothing (boxer shorts, sweats), says Sharon Buck of Upper Marlboro, the project’s treasurer. The group’s Web site also has helpful guidelines about what not to send to the hospital (used clothing and non-necessities such as books, bubble gum, and magazines). Visit LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org for information on donating.
Another stop for the wounded is Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District, where the McLean-based Angels of Mercy organize donations. The angels also gather once a month to sort and box clothing to send to Iraqi and Afghan children. To get involved, call 703-938-8930 or visit SupportOurWounded.org.
ADVOCATE ON BEHALF OF FAMILIES:
Started in 1969 as the Military Wives Association, the Alexandria-based National Military Family Association is the voice for families on issues of government relations and quality of life. The association, which also sponsors Operation Purple summer camps for children of the military, is looking for people to stuff bags, answer phones, edit newsletters, support its Web site and attend congressional hearings to take notes. Visit NMFA.org and click on “Volunteer” for a list of open positions.
Following the America Supports You Freedom Walk in September, LHCP was given surplus t-shirts to distribute to troops overseas and to veterans at home
From one of our medical contacts in Iraq we heard, “the ‘America Supports You’ t-shirts came in right after Veteran’s Day, so we gave them out to everyone we saw in support of that day. Troops were impressed and tickled.”
From a VA facility in Virginia, we received a letter stating: “The entire staff of this hospital wishes to thank you for the donation of the following: 21 boxes of “T” shirts-72 per box @$4 each total Value of $6,048.00 [LHCP does not determine the value of items donated. This value was determined by the VA hospital.
Everything that is done to benefit the veterans at Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC is greatly appreciated by the patients, the entire staff, and the volunteers. Mere words cannot express how much your donations mean to the patients!”
Our ability to distribute these surplus t-shirts in a timely manner is another way LHCP supports our deployed troops and stateside veterans.
Today is going to be a warm day and I understand we are sending out a lot of patients. I have been taking excess supplies from here and sending them to one of our contacts down range. The NCOIC and the chaplain are happy since they have been trying to get this stuff out of here for several months but have not been able to.
I had a troop about my age come in. We started talking about his arm, which was in a compression bandage. He was shot in the forearm and the bullet hit the bone. He goes back in on Monday to have bone removed from his hip and put into his arm and to remove the metal brace that they put into the arm during the first surgery. He showed me his x-rays and pictures they took during surgery. I think he was expecting me to get freaked out by the pictures, but that has never been something that has bothered me.
Later, I was in the storeroom getting some things to stock and when I returned there was a woman in the WWMC that was picking out some things. I asked her if I could help her and she said that she was just trying to get some things to cheer up her husband. She seemed to be a little on edge. I asked her if she was ok. She dropped her head and took some deep breaths. She said that she never wanted her husband to go to Iraq. But if he had to go that she knew she would always support him. I thought he had been injured downrange. As she continued to talk I learned that his pancreas was shutting down. He had stayed here in Germany and was in class. She felt sure that he would be OK because he was with her but one day in class he became ill and ended up here with 30% of his pancreas not working. She started crying and I went around and just gave her a hug. She just hugged me and cried. She said that she was not strong enough to watch him go through this. I told her that she was and to look inside herself and she would find the strength. That it was there and if she could not find it to come down and see me and we would find it together. We stood there and held hands and hugged and talked about the tube in his nose and just to take one thing at a time. He was supposed to be safe here and she could not do this by herself. I gave her a big box of stuffed animals to look through to take up to the ward for him and told her I would be right back. I went inside and got one of the chaplains and explained the situation and they came out and I left them alone so that she could talk in private. We all think that danger and harm live far from home when it can be on our own doorstep. Tell those that are close to you that you love them. Pick up the phone and say I miss you, it only take 2 minutes and 2 minutes from now might be to late.
I had my bald friend come back in from the other day. He has back problems. They might be injecting his back on Monday. He is very worried, but I told him that if he wanted to come see me beforehand that I would go up with him. His friend, who is very short, is Army and my bald buddy, who is AF, and has to be 6’6, are like Tom and Jerry or Mutt and Jeff. They are so funny together and total opposites but somehow it works for them.
The dignitary was the secretary of the Army. I was helping a very young kid on crutches when they arrived. I almost got finished helping this young man when they walked in and we were in the corner by the toiletries. I was introduced by the Colonel and the Secretary asked me a few questions and then started asking the young troop I was helping a lot of questions about his injury, how it happened, etc. His photographer was taking a lot of pictures the entire time so I don’t know if they are on the web anywhere, but maybe someone can find them. They can’t be very good because right before the patient showed up I was really working stocking shelves and cleaning up. Then the chaplain’s assistant brought in a big cart from the warehouse. We decided not to try to get it up before the Secretary got there so we were wheeling it back inside and the entire cart dumped. There were shirts and about 100 bars of soap on the sidewalk. Even the Colonel was picking them up. I hurt my wrist and the top of my hand when the cart tipped. Talk about poor timing!! Anyways, we got it cleaned up and then this young man came in for some help. I was trying to help him with my bruised hand when the Secretary showed up.
I don’t think people understand two things about “helping the troops.” You can become a problem for them or put yourself in harms way by doing so. I find it interesting that people will find ways to work outside the system to “help the troops” not understanding that there are very good reasons that the system is in place the way that it is. There are problems with PTSD that can put someone helping a troop in a dangerous situation. There are infections and medical conditions that cause problems. There are military requirements put into place for their protection and safety and ours.
People want to help and I am the first to say I know that the system can be more than difficult to work inside of but I would not want anyone doing good in support of our troops to be harmed due to PTSD, or to spread a illness from one patient to another because they did not know proper procedures by just shaking a patients hand or taking something home to their kids. Giving a patient a ride and having that patient go into a medical emergency or being in an accident with that patient or not getting the patient to their destination on time or by curfew. Being in the system protects you! Doing it the way they ask you helps protect you! If you are doing any of these things without permission please stop and get permission from their agency for your protection and the protection of our troops.
9.5 hours worked today in thanks to Dianne Lane and her contribution to my trip.
Since some members did not give me their real names with their contributions I will not be able to mention each member by name but I am working each day in thanks of a LHCP member. If I have not worked a day for you yet I will. Thank you all again for the contributions to the trip.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited with Wounded Warrior Ministry Center volunteer Karen Grimord (president of LHCP) and patient Spc. Brandon Davidson during his September14, 2007 visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Photo appeared in the Kaiserslautern American, September 21, 2007. Photo by Thomas Warner
I unpacked a box today from a U.S. patriot who has their heart in support of our troops. Unfortunately, I had to throw away more than half the box. There was crackers, loose candy, cookies and other snacks in with large bottles of shampoo, magazines and pens. The weight of the shampoo smashed the crackers and they were all over the bottom of the box. The cookies were flattened like a pancake and about one-third of the candy had become unwrapped. The large bottle of shampoo will not be used here, since troops are not here for long and don’t like to carry it home with them. The pen must have gotten jabbed in the side of the box and it was broken. The 2 puzzle books were good! All of that in a flat rate box and more than half had to be thrown away. Very sad!
A young man came in today and said he just wanted to look around. He looked and looked and when I asked if he was sure I could not help him find anything he said no but asked where did we get all of this “stuff?” I told him it was donated by non-profit organizations, church groups, boy scouts, girl scouts, veterans organizations and individuals that all cared about him. He asked how much did it cost? I told him it did not cost him anything. Good thing our heads are attached as his would still be rolling around in the WWMC. He said “really.” I said “really.” I asked him if he could now use some of it to stay warm in the colder Germany weather and he smiled and said, “Yes ma’am!” I believe this young man was just a little afraid that he could not afford all the things he found in the WWMC and was thrilled that people like those at LHCP were here to support him. I now know why LRMC is saying no more quilts or blankets. They have received so many fleece blankets that were just cut and sent to them. The ends are not hemmed and some of the sides are not even.
Tomorrow we are supposed to have some dignitary come in but I am not sure whom.
Well, it is late again and time to call it another night. 10 hours worked today in thanks to Karen Monk and her contribution to my trip.
Today was longer than yesterday. We had 3 planes come in today and lots of patients. The 82nd got hit hard and the liaison had his hands full with taking care of all his guys. The liaisons are responsible for taking care of the guys from their units that come from down range to LRMC. Some are better at their jobs than others, but over the last 3 years and my trips working here I have met some terrific troops here supporting their own. One of them told me yesterday that if he could not be with his guys down range that LRMC was were he wanted to be so that he could be here to help them when they got here.
Our 12×12 pillows are being left for a larger pillow that is about 16 x 20. We might want to reconsider redoing our size that is being sent to LRMC. One of the nurses that came in today asked if we could send 16×20 down range also.
I had patients coming out of my ears today and they all where in good spirits. Well if they were not when they came in, they were when they left. Being military they all call me ma’am. One came in and I told him that ma’am just would not work and my name was Karen. Every time he said ma’am I said Karen. Finally about the time we finished with filling his bag full of his goodies he was catching on. At the very end he said ma’am again and took both of his cheeks in my hands and said Kaaa reeeen. He smiled and his liaison laughed. At the end of the day his liaison came back with a new group and I could hear him tell the guys outside when you go in call her ma’am she really likes that! I gave him one of my looks and told the guys my name and they all said “Hi Karen.” One of the guys said that they learn quickly and knew who to take orders from. I really had to laugh when just as they were leaving and 2 more guys came up for clothing. I had not introduced myself but after we finished and I went to put my name on their forms I noticed that one of them had already written “Karen” at the bottom of the form.
As long as this war has been going on and as much as the TV news tells us about it, I find it amazing that the troops that I run across here want to go back down range. They want to be with their guys. Three of them today told me that they would not be here.
When I asked them if they had been manifested out they told me no they had to see the doctor. I would say well, how do you know you are not going to be here long? The reply would be something to the fact of “I can’t let them keep me long” or “I have to get back” or “It is nothing serious, they have to let me get back.” I talked to a Marine who has a neck injury. The doctor says he should go home for treatment. His unit has 49 days left. Because he can get treatment in-country he wants to go back to Iraq. He wants to finish his job. His wife asked him to come home and not take a chance; I tried to convince him of the dangers, the other volunteer tried. He is going back to finish the job knowing that the wrong jolt could leave him severely injured from the neck down.
I arrived at 8 this morning and left at 5:30 tonight. My back hurts and my feet are on fire. I think some of you know that I have a blown out disk and 2 herniated disks in my back but I am just muscle sore today. My feet hurt from being on them all day and the one that I had surgery on 3 times is swollen again BUT as I am typing this all I can think about is WOW! I feel good being here.
The morning was slow with patients coming in for duffel bags most of the morning. Most are leaving on Friday and are trying to get all their items packed and ready to go. A young woman that came in yesterday and got a back pack brought it back because it was dark blue not black and as many times as I have explained it to this group and as long as it has been on our web page, groups insist they know better and someone sent 4 large boxes of dark blue back packs and she was told it was out of regulation and so she could not carry it. What a waste of money! I ‘m sure the dark blue was 1 or 2 dollars cheaper and some one made a command decision to buy them. But why not spend the extra dollars or get a few less bags and have the troops be able to use them instead of having this poor girl have to listen to the fact that she was not in regulation 2 or 3 times before she could get back to us to change out the bag. I have said it over and over quality not quantity. We are here to fill their needs they are not here to fill our needs. (If you don’t get that statement send me a private email and I will explain it when I get back or another group member can).
I had a patient that came in this afternoon in quite a bit of pain from 4 broken ribs. He still insisted on packing his own bag. Until I told him they paid me good money to be here and help him and I did not want to lose my job. He was to say the least just a little high on drugs and said “Oh yes, ma’am ,I know how that can be” and so he let me help him. One of these days he will find out we are all volunteers, but it worked today and that is all that matters. I once cracked 1 rib and can’t imagine what 4 must feel like. Uggh!!
We had a 6’6” man come in this afternoon. I went to work finding size 14 shoes and 3x clothing. He was being so polite that I just had to break the ice. He was bald as bald can be so I asked him “Do you need a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo or how about a HAIRBRUSH?!! His friend stopped and looked at him. I said, “OK, now I expected a little more of a reaction than that.” He said that was funny! He was not laughing or anything but he just kept saying, “That was funny!” At that moment a 3 star general walked in. He shook the hand of the patient I was helping and they were talking about the time at the hospital and if he was finding everything in the WWMC OK. He said “yes, sir.” He pointed at me and said to the bald 3 star, “this one just asked me if I wanted a hairbrush.” OK, you know I was hoping I would melt into the floor at this point but then in the same breath he told the general “I really needed that, she made me feel like I was really at home.” I was so embarrassed I am not sure what they talked about after that until the general came up and “coined” me after the colonel in charge of the WWMC told the general about my service to the WWMC for the last 3 years.
This afternoon they brought a bunch of boxes from the warehouse and so most of the afternoon was spent unpacking quilts, jackets, folding t-shirts and putting many more items away. Today I worked 9.5 hours with no lunch. Today was thanks to Evelyn Dittman and her contribution to my trip.
Today is the first day at the WWMC. I arrived at 0730. It was nice to have the chaplain walk in and see me and say, “Some things never change”. He was happy to see me there so early. He gave me the key and I went out to see what might have changed from my last visit.
Monday mornings are always a restocking day from the weekend, so I went to work on the boxer briefs and went looking for sweats. There are very few or , so it looks like that will have to be put on the urgent list. They also had no white large under shirts. I noticed that there are LHCP comfort pillows on one of the shelves and I stocked LHCP Edina High School Pj’s. It amazes me that even with our list of what not to send, people still think that they know best and send what they wish. They have 2 or 3 large boxes of ceramic coffee mugs with pens and candy inside of them. I guess they have been sitting there a while because no one wants the coffee mugs. They for sure have enough blankets for right now. So we need to send ours down range. In fact the patient that came in today did not take a blanket from the WWMC because she brought one from down range. I was going to try to remember who made the pillows from our group but I am going on 3 and 1/2 hours sleep and my memory is not the greatest right now but if you made blue and white stripe pillows they are on the shelf. Someone else made some pillows but they are not stuffed as well as ours and LHCP did a much better job. Thanks SoL!
Some of our duffel bags are still here. In fact one of them went out today to a Navy woman. Some of our LHCP pins are still here and so I put them in our duffel bags left on the shelves and they will go out with our bags now.
We need deodorant for men; please do not send any for women, as we have more than enough. We got a box in with about 7 in it and that is all that is in the box right now.
I read an article about LRMC having no reading material, CD’s or DVD’s. Well, I don’t know why this group would say such a thing, or what they think all the books and CD’s and movies here, are, but I wanted to come and check again for myself and they are misleading their readers. In fact, while I was walking by the bus stop there was a young man reading a Hunters magazine. I imagine that DVD’s are something that is always needed, but to say there are is a misstatement of the truth. Remember, non-violent, quality, not quantity, if you would like to send movies. Movies are needed at all CSH, BAS, EMEDS, LRMC and VA hospitals.
I left LRMC today at 12:30 p.m. so that I could get to security to get process through with my ID card. I also only got 3 1/2 hours sleep last night so I am hoping to get on the right schedule here quickly. I put in 5 hours today thanks to Ann and Cornelius Day and their contribution to my trip.
I have arrived. It was a long flight, but I managed to stay up for the 38 hours so that I could try to get on the right schedule. I have one minute on this computer so I have to go but will post more later.
Sept. 9, 2007
Well, tomorrow I start work. Yesterday, I went by and checked with security about getting on base and about the rental car, but it can only be done Monday through Friday, so that will be another trip. Last night I woke up about 4 ready to go so I guess that is not to bad with the time change. I think I did much better than the last time I was here.
I want to thank Ms. Jenkins for the ride from the airport to the car rental place. We had fun! We found out that GPS is only so smart!!
Well, time on this computer is over so I must sign out. More later.
Sept 10, 2007
The flight was a long a very bumpy one. Even the flight attendants were asked to sit down 3 or 4 times. I don’t sleep on the aircraft, so by the time I finally got to bed I had been up 38 hours. When I was getting on the aircraft I noticed a man with an Army ROTC recruiter shirt on. He was with a boy about 13. When they called us for the plane the man was giving the kid a kiss on the forehead and I realized the kid was traveling by himself. I told the man I would help the kid if need be. The man thanked me. The kid was in an A seat and I was in an F seat, so we were across the plane from each other. When the plane was about 30 minutes from landing I watched the steward go around and talk to about 4 kids, they talked to the one sitting about 2 rows in front of me and asked her to grab her bags from the overhead and meet them at the front of the plane. One of the kids was the one traveling by himself that I had met before the flight. When I got off the plane I noticed the kid was walking in front of me and realized that he should have stayed with the stewards to get to his next gate or through customs to meet his family. When we got to the end of the ramp he was very lost and I stopped him and asked him where he needed to go. He said he had to get his bags. So I told him to follow me. Frankfurt is a big airport and it was a long way from our gate to baggage claim. So I explained to him that when he traveled to always look for the baggage claim signs. When we got to the passport control he was EU and I was non-EU so he got through much faster than I did. I showed him where to go through and told him he could wait for me on the other side. He did and we made our way to baggage claim. His luggage came down first and I told him he could go through customs and his family would be waiting for him right outside the door. Well, he may have left the aircraft because he knew he was a big boy and could find his own way but he now thought it was best to stay with me and told me he would wait for me. I got my bags a little later and we made our way through the custom checks. I saw Ms. Jenkins right away with my name on a sign. The young kid was right behind me and when I turned to ask him if he saw whom he was waiting for he was looking at a man that was coming after him. I made sure it was the right man and then went to the woman who had come to rescue me from a very long, rough flight.
The trip to the car rental office was quick, as we had lots to talk about. When the GPS told us we were at the rental office we had to laugh, as it was across the median and behind a very large wall. So about 10 minutes later we had made our way there. The cheapest car that was reserved was not available since the previous renters had extended it so I am paying 100 euros more for the month. But I am hoping to be able to change it in the middle of the month when they return the other car. When I got into the car I realized it was standard and thought, ‘good thing I know how to drive standard.’ But, I was so tired I was not sure it was a good thing for me to be driving at that particular moment. I only stalled it once when I stopped at a stop sign and thought it was in 1st when it was in 3rd.
We then headed to the small German village where I am staying. The GPS took us to the village, but not directly to the house, so I was hoping that I would recognize something from staying with these friends the one night in April. When we got to the village I did not recognize the street until we passed it and could not get Ms. Jenkins attention [she was leading the way] so we drove through the village until we got to the end of it and she stopped. I told her I thought I would know the street we had to turn on from the other direction and I would try. We were lucky and I did manage to find my way there. We got everything unpacked and it was nice to stop moving.
Since it was now about 2:30 in the afternoon it would not be a good thing to go to sleep. My hostess and I talked for about 2 hours when her husband called and said he was at the local pool hall and wanted to know if we would meet them there. Off we go, which was good to keep me awake, but I don’t think I was much company. We got home about 7:30 and I went to bed at 8:30. I woke up at 9:30 Saturday morning the 8th.
I will tell you about my first day at LRMC as soon as I can get more computer time.
By Samantha L. Quigley / American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON – As thousands of people filled the Pentagon parking lot at the end of the third America Supports You Freedom Walk today, they were greeted by groups individually working toward the collective goal of supporting troops and their families.
Representatives of more than 20 groups that support America Supports You were on hand to let people know what they do for the troops. America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
The groups, which send care packages and letters, offer support to wounded service members, and assist military families agreed the walk gave them the opportunity to tell the participants how they could support the troops.
“There’s a lot of people out there that don’t realize that you can write to a service member,” said Kristen Petrella, president of the New Jersey-based Hugs from Home, a letter-writing group. “We’re going to … let them know that, ‘Yes, you can do that.’”
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, treasurer Sharon Buck, said her group participated for the same reason. “Our purpose today is to hand out pamphlets if people are interested in learning what our mission is,” she said.
The project supports the chaplains’ center at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Buck said. Its support arrives at the chaplains’ center in the form of a black backpack containing basic necessities that wounded service members may need but not have when they arrive in Germany, such as underwear, T-shirts, toiletries and other needed items.
Another group participating in the post-Freedom Walk activities, Soldiers’ Angels, successfully spread the word about its efforts by attracting walkers like Karina Rollins with the opportunity to write a message to the troops. The Washington resident, who plans to “adopt” a service member through the group, said supporting the troops is a must for her despite not having any ties to the military.
“I do not have a family member or a friend who is in Iraq, so it’s not a personal thing in that sense,” Rollins said. “We need to show them that we care about more than getting soy lattes and watching ‘American Idol.’ We need to show that we understand that there is something very big and important going on.”
The support groups and walkers said the Freedom Walk did just that, and has done so since the inaugural event on the fourth anniversary of the attacks.
“We need to keep the memory alive,” Carol Watanabe, lead volunteer with Little Patriots Embraced, a Missouri group, said. “It’s important to rally the American people and make them understand that we support … our troops.
“There’s nothing more important than our troops knowing that we are standing behind them,” she said.
Little Patriots Embraced works to relieve stress on the families of deployed service members through care packages that include teddy bears, writing journals and blankets for newborns, Watanabe said.
Cindi Bookout, president of Operation Homefront’s D.C. Metro chapter, agreed that letting troops and their families know they have support is paramount. Her group accomplishes this through chapters in 31 states that provide support to the families of deployed service members.
“The Freedom Walk is important because it lets (service members) know that there are thousands of people all over the United States – not just here in Washington, D.C., but all over the (country) – that support our service members,” she said.
With more than 230 walks scheduled to take place between yesterday and Sept. 11, in all 50 states and 10 countries, Americans are doing just that — thanking those who serve, remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and commemorating the tragic events of six years ago.
This year’s America Supports You Freedom Walk began at the Lincoln Memorial and ended with a musical tribute by the Harlem Gospel Choir in the Pentagon’s parking lot.
By Spc. Alexis Harrison 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
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.
Dozens of motorcycles were lined up at Dale City American Legion Post 1503 on July 29, as eager riders prepared to take part in a charity poker ride to support the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.
“If only the troops could see that all of these guys have their backs,” said LHCP president Karen Grimord as she looked over the row of gleaming Harleys.
LHCP is a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items free of charge to military personnel who become sick, injured or wounded as a result of their service in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Donated items are distributed to military patients at Landstuhl Hospital, the largest American military hospital outside the United States.
“My son was born at Landstuhl,” said Julie Tichonhuk of Dumfries as she signed up for the ride.
The event included a variation of five-card stud poker and led bikers on a more than 120-mile journey through Dale City, Woodbridge, Manassas and finally Stafford, where they finished at American Legion Post 290.
“Somebody has to support them,” said Joe Jablonski, a Marine Corps veteran from Gainesville who made the ride.
Riders had to pay a $20 entry fee to play poker. They each received a spreadsheet that contained all card numbers and suits at the beginning of the ride. Participants made five stops along the route, where they drew cards. Those with the highest and lowest hands won a cash prize at the end.
Army veteran Jon Banks of Fairfax said he debated on whether or not to attend church or participate in the ride. After praying about it, he opted to hop on his Harley.
“It’s for the troops,” he said. “I just got the sensation that if I’m doing something good for somebody, it’s as good as going to church.”