by Maj. Nicole David 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – The stress of deployment can present challenges to service members. Depression, stress, anxiety and relationship issues are a few examples of common issues that service members experience during time away from loved ones. On March 30, 2014, the Mental Health Clinic of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron provided an open house to all military members on base, offering a variety of quality of life items to help boost morale and also remind the troops that help is always available.
The open house idea was the result of the mental health clinic receiving 20 boxes from the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members. Each shipment LHCP sends is in honor of a fallen warrior and their photo and a short biography is taped to the outside of every box mailed, as a reminder of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The boxes were filled with approximately $20,000 worth of donations of toiletries, towels, mattress covers, handmade pillows and blankets, food items, novels, DVDs, video games and much more, all free to any Airman, joint or coalition partner who paid the clinic a visit.
“We really wanted to host this open house, not only to provide comfort items to people, but also because we wanted to put a face to the mental health clinic services,” said Master Sgt. Allison Weeks, the outpatient services flight chief deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, AK. “Sometimes seeing and talking to those of us who can support, encourages Airmen to seek help and come back and talk with us.”
Seeking professional help is not an easy thing to do, another reason why the mental health clinic wanted to host an open house. Weeks, a native of Palmer, Alaska, pointed out that providing this opportunity allows service members to interact with the professionals in a relaxed, unofficial setting that provides some comforts of home and helps people feel less isolated.
The challenge of working in the military can be physically, emotionally and mentally taxing, especially while deployed. That is why it is important for service members to take deliberate care of one’s physical and mental health. Taking direct action to cope with stressors is empowering and one way to do this is by talking to a mental health professional. Actively coping is an attitude and a habit that must be strengthened through practice, even when there is no crisis.
As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “Mental health treatment is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor, and integrity.”
Through the combination of corporate donations and a charity casino night held at this year’s Executive Summit, $20,000 was raised for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. This worthy organization provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded from service in the Middle East.
To understand why Karen Grimord is so passionate about helping wounded soldiers overseas, just shake her family tree. Karen is a proud military brat who was born in a military hospital and grew up within the tight-knit, supportive community of military families. Both Karen’s father and husband retired from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years. At one point, five family members were serving in the Middle East at the same time, including her son and son-in-law. Karen herself worked as a military contractor for years, first for Lockheed Martin and later, for Raytheon.
Frequent moves and fast-forming friendships are hallmarks of the military lifestyle. So is a deeply rooted sense of mission and loyalty to country and the men and women who serve. That mission may be what drives Karen, 51, to commit extraordinary acts of charity through her nonprofit organization, Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.
Since 2004, the organization has shipped more than 200,000 pounds of donated clothing and supplies, often at Karen’s own expense, to wounded and ailing soldiers in the Middle East. The bulk of donated items are mailed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside of the U.S. Karen also sends supplies to medics, nurses, and chaplains at more than 150 military units throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Middle East countries with U.S. military operations. “If we can help just one military member with a gift, then I hope they feel the respect, gratitude, and the love we have for them. That’s what keeps pushing me on—knowing that it makes their future a little bit easier,” Karen says.
Her labor of love can be back-breaking at times. Working out of her home in Stafford, Virginia, she fills boxes with an assortment of requested items. A typical shipment might include sweatpants, Crocs, socks, towels, pillows, or blankets. Four or five days a week, she drives to the post office in her white Chevy Suburban, which she reluctantly purchased a few years back when the charity grew too large for her beloved Jeep to handle.
Sometimes, Karen is lucky enough to find volunteers to help. But often, it’s just Karen and her packing tape filling up boxes and taping them shut for their distant journey. Halfway through 2012, Karen had already shipped 946 boxes, a number on pace to beat last year’s tally of 1,713 boxes. In fact, supply and demand have grown rapidly since the charity’s first year when it sent its first 33 boxes of supplies. Karen expects demand will increase as other nonprofits close their doors or shift their focus to helping returning soldiers.
The organization grew out of a simple request from Karen’s daughter who was living in Germany, where her husband was stationed. Would she collect DVD and videotape movies and send them to wounded soldiers at nearby Landstuhl hospital?
Karen appealed to her circle of family and friends, collecting 485 movies. Grateful for her enthusiasm, the chaplain at Landstuhl asked Karen to collect sweatpants. Again, she turned to family and friends who donated 108 pairs. To her dismay, she learned the number was a “drop in the bucket” to meet the hospital’s needs. At the time, as many as 1,000 soldiers were arriving at the hospital every month, and their first stop was the Chaplain’s Closet, a place where soldiers received donated clothing and supplies to replace their tattered and bloody clothing.
Karen reached out to veterans groups such as the American Legion and soon, donations came pouring in. But the more supplies she mailed to Landstuhl, the greater the requests for donations. In just a year, word-of-mouth spread among military medics and medical staff in the Middle East about the woman in Stafford, Virginia, who almost never said “no” to a request for supplies.
“There was never a plan for me to start a nonprofit,” Karen says. “What started as one or two boxes turned into thousands.”
Karen knew she needed help with the legal and financial realities of running a charitable organization. Today, a small but loyal group of volunteers—many with strong military ties—handle accounting, communications, and other vital support services.
In addition to running her nonprofit, Karen also spends a month at Landstuhl hospital every year as a volunteer, handing out clothing and supplies from the Chaplain’s Closet.
It was at the hospital that she met Marine Lance Corporal Justin Reynolds. In 2006, the young Marine was recovering from shrapnel wounds and other injuries suffered when his Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device in Iraq.
From the start, the wounded soldier from Ohio clicked with Karen and gave her the nickname “Mom Two.” One day, Karen got a call from Ann Reynolds, Justin’s mother. The soldier had returned home to recuperate but suffered a stroke resulting in partial paralysis. Karen hopped in her car and drove to the hospital in North Carolina where Justin was fighting for his life. There, the two “moms” met face-to-face for the first time.
Nearly two years later, a second setback robbed Justin of his speech and motor coordination. Again Karen dropped everything to visit the Marine and his family, now in nearby Richmond, Virginia. “Karen has been such a great friend,” says Ann Reynolds. “If I need something, I call Karen. She knows how to get it.”
Karen’s devotion to Justin and his family is a clear example of why she works so tirelessly for wounded military members. Karen, her friends and family members say, is the kind of person who simply refuses to back down. Karen believes Justin one day will regain his speech and motor skills. Until that day, she will support him, just as she supports her charity—until every military member comes home.
(CBS News) STAFFORD, Va. – With the 4th of July coming next week, we tell the story this week of an American who loves her country as much as anyone we know. For her, it’s not about wearing her patriotism on her sleeves — it’s about rolling them up, as we learned, “On the Road.”
If you’re a soldier arriving at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, chances are you didn’t have time to pack. Which is why, once they’re on the mend, a lot of these wounded warriors need Karen Grimord’s packages.
They fill up a kind of commissary where everything is free — shelves of clothing, blankets, and everyday necessities. They can pick up everything they need to make their stay more comfortable.
“It makes a tremendous difference for their morale,” said Col. Luke Pittman.
Pittman told us the shelves of goods all come from donors — much of it, believe it or not, from a single donor in Virginia — a lone grandma in a two-car garage.
It’s full of boxes, both packed and folded up.
“I need lots of boxes,” says Karen Grimord. That much is obvious.
Every day, tape gun blazing, Grimord does her part for the war on terror. She sent her first box eight years ago after seeing a public service announcement and has been steadily ramping-up her operation ever since — both in quantity and quality.
“I figure if I don’t want to use it here, they’re not going to want to use it there,” she said, packing a box with brand new terry-cloth towels.
By comparison, military issue is sandpaper. Which is why, although it started with Landstuhl, Karen now gets requests from more than 150 combat hospitals, doctors and medics.
She can’t say no.
And “we shouldn’t say no,” she says. “I am going to try, with every bone in my body — if it’s on that wish list — I’m going to try to get it for them.”
To that end, she has now sent more than 7,300 care packages. She spends $40,000 on postage alone. And although she does have some financial supporters, they don’t cover all the costs by any means.
To learn more about the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, or to donate to Karen Grimord’s efforts, visit the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project website
She isn’t a wealthy person. “Not even close,” she says. And she puts her own money into the care package project — most of her savings. She just can’t stop.
A lot of people say they support the troops — but their commitment goes no further than their bumper sticker. Karen, on the other hand, is all-in. And will be as long as there are injured Americans in need of a little — anything.
“You just have to remember their faces and who they are — and you pack another box,” Grimord said.
Dear Karen, Just a quick note to thank you for letting us be a part of this special humanitarian service effort you are embarked upon.
Your presentation at last Saturdays women’s conference was beautifully rendered and opened the hearts and understanding of many.
I would like to stay in touch and if there is anything I can do to help you, just let me know.
Warm Regards, Sandi Sears
Faith in Christ Leads to Pillows of Love for Wounded Troops
News Release By Jeff Schrade, Director of Public Affairs Fredericksburg Virginia Stake Cell: (202)870-3277
Fredericksburg, VA – Over 200 local women came together on Saturday to sew pillowcases and stuff over 1,000 pillows, and then box them for shipment to wounded service members in Afghanistan, Iraq and Germany. The women, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were working in conjunction the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.
“The pillows are really a personal message to the troops that says, ‘I am here, depend on me for anything and not just now, but for as long as you need me.’ It is a soft whisper of encouragement,” said Karen Grimord, a Stafford resident who founded the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project in 2004. “It is amazing to see the expressions on our wounded warriors faces when they realize the pillows, toiletries and clothing are free. The only thing that comes close is a three-year old on Christmas morning.”
The Landstuhl hospital, located in Germany, treats the majority of serious casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the largest American hospital outside of the United States.
“We are here today to provide this service because of the love of Christ – love beyond measure. Our faith in him leads us to help others,” said LaRene Olbeter, as she stood in a bright yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” t-shirt. Olbeter is president of the church’s Relief Society program in the Fredericksburg area.
Saturday’s effort touched Jennie Pugmire of Fredericksburg, a church member who volunteered to help.
“In 2002 my husband Jeff was the sole survivor of a booby-trapped ammo dump in Afghanistan. Four of his buddies were killed that day. My husband lost his sight in one
eye, lost his hearing in one ear, dislocated his shoulders, and his body is still filled with shrapnel that sometimes still comes to the surface of his skin. When I heard today about men leaving the battlefield with nothing more than what they have on, it just hit me hard and I had to cry. It’s been wonderful to give something back to those who have given so much,” Pugmire said.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project was found in 2004 after Grimord visited her daughter and son-in-law in Germany. While there she spent time at the Army’s hospital and discovered a need for videos and DVD’s.
“Every month Landstuhl handles about 37,000 out-patient visits, 500 operations and 100 births for American military members and their families,” said Grimord, a former military contractor who saw action in Bosnia. “We started with shipments of videos and DVD’s. After sending that first shipment of 485 movies, I asked the Chaplin’s office what more was needed, and he suggested our troops could use some sweat pants and shirts. What was to be one shipment turned into another and another.”
It is now a nationwide effort that earned the “seal of excellence” from the Independent Charities of America (ICA). Of the more than one million charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed the ICA’s standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded its seal of approval.
“Last week we spent over a $1,000 a day in shipping out a variety of material. Those costs were picked up by BAE Systems and they will be paying for the shipments from today’s effort. We cannot thank them, or these local Mormon women, enough,” Grimord said. “Of course, we are always looking for help from others.”
The pillow project is the third major humanitarian project that Olbetter has undertaken since being asked last year to lead the local LDS Church’s multi-county Relief Society program.
“Last year we began by sewing 20 quilts for children in need. We followed that by providing over 100 ‘comfort kits’ for traumatized child abuse victims who are tenderly interviewed and examined at the wonderful, but sadly needed, Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center in Fredericksburg,” Olbetter said.
The Relief Society is a philanthropic and educational women’s organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), unofficial known as the Mormon Church. The Relief Society was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, and today has approximately 6 million members in over 170 countries and territories.
“Jesus Christ instructed all of us to love one another. The Relief Society program helps the women of our church put that instruction into action. We plan on a doing a lot more of that here in the coming years,” said Mike Kitchens, who serves as presiding officer of the LDS Church’s Fredericksburg Virginia Stake. The Fredericksburg Stake, which is similar to a diocese, has 4,600 members.
The War at Home – Parents of OH Marine beg folks to remember injured
By Jerry Anderson WTOL 11
(WTOL) – As the U.S. continues fighting wars on two fronts, many folks do not always think about the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Ohio couple, whose son was injured in Iraq, wants to make sure folks remember.
From the time Justin Reynolds was a young boy, he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up – and his family knew he would wear a military uniform someday.
In fact, he loved playing with GI Joes and reading books about war.
Ann Reynolds, Justin’s mother, remembers when a librarian said her son’s school would need more military books because Justin had read them all.
Reynolds’ grew into a big young man. In fact, after deciding to join the Marines he was told he had to lose 100 pounds before they would accept him – and he did.
“I was proud, very proud,” said Ann Reynolds. “I’ve always been proud of him, but that was a proud moment for his father and I.”
When Reynolds was shipped to fight in Anbar province, Iraq, in late 2004, the fighting was intense.
When a second tour followed, Marine Lance Corporal Reynolds was driving a Humvee when it was hit by an improvised explosive device or IED.
Ann Reynolds says when her son called, he told her he had been in a car accident. “I said ‘a car accident?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I hit an IED.’ And I said, ‘that’s a car accident alright.'” Reynolds also told her mother he was sure his leg was destroyed.
However, his leg was still intact, but he did have a broken ankle, dislocated toe and knee ripped open by shrapnel.
While Reynolds was recuperating in North Carolina, doctors told his family a virus had attacked his brain.
After a harsh course of antibiotics and steroids, the virus finally disappeared. However, after a year and a-half, Reynolds relapsed and the virus waged war on the young Marine’s brain.
Ann Reynolds said her son’s doctors called and said the virus had come back — her son was dying.
Instead, the virus robbed Reynolds of his speech and motor skills. Now he responds with a smile and laugh. And, for example, the blink of an eye means yes.
His parents – and others know that he hears and feels.
Reynolds’ mother says the last words she heard him speak were to apologize. “‘I’m sorry Mom, I’m so sorry.’ And I said ‘Justin, you don’t have to be sorry for anything.'”
U.S. Marine Justin Reynolds fought bravely for his country, earning the Purple Heart.
Doctors are still uncertain about where the mystery virus came from, even after MRIs, spinal taps and cat scans.
But, Ann and Robert Reynolds believe the virus came from chemicals in the improvised explosive device.
It took a while, but Reynolds’ parents finally learned how to navigate their way through the V. A. or Veterans Administration. However, that was only after Reynolds paid for a year of his own acute care in a nursing home.
Now, Reynolds says she thinks the government officials understand she and her husband do not give up.
However, Reynolds admits on some days she feels like she cannot go on, but says when she thinks of her son, the Marine – that keeps her going. After all, she says, he never gives up and neither will she.
In the past year and a-half, Robert Reynolds has had three heart attacks and battled lung cancer.
“Sometimes you sit and think about yourself and then you think about Justin,” said Robert Reynolds. “…what I have is nothing. Justin inspires me to live.”
The Reynolds’ wanted their son’s story told because they never want folks to forget about those who serve their country.
“You just don’t realize what these men and women do, how much they go through, how much they do sacrifice,” said Ann Reynolds.
The Marines motto, “Semper Fi,” meaning always faithful, was — and certainly is true of Marine Lance Corporal Retired Justin Reynolds.
To send Justin Reynolds a card or a note:
Justin Reynolds c/o The Ridge at Shawnee 2535 Ft. Amanda Rd. Lima, OH 45804
Military-related charities are feeling the pinch of the economic recession as donors cut back on their giving.
“We’re hurting. We’ve never had to ask for money before, and now we’re out there asking.” said Karen Guenther, co-founder and executive director of Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Even as the number of injured troops seeking help has been on the rise, Guenther said her group has seen a drop in donations of about 34 percent this year compared with the first eight months of 2008.
That’s had an impact on assistance. Although the fund is giving more grants, the average amount of the grants has decreased, and the organization also has had to dip into its reserve funds, Guenther said.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund helps injured Marines and sailors and their families, as well as soldiers and other service members injured in direct support of Marines.
The Fisher House Foundation has seen a 30 percent drop in donations this year, said David Coker, foundation president.
Donations to the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organizations of America group of charities within the Combined Federal Campaign declined in 2008 compared with the year before, even though overall CFC donation were up:
Fall 2008 $276 million– Fall 2007 $273 million Percent of change +1%
Fall 2008 $12.4 million Fall 2007 $12.9 Percent of change-3.9%
Guenther and other charity officials are pinning their hopes more than ever on the annual Combined Federal Campaign, which is just getting under way.
“When we joined CFC, we knew it would be a good way to sustain us in our lean years,” Guenther said. “That’s what we’re seeing now, so I’m hoping our CFC donations go up this year.”
But the outlook is uncertain. IMSFF and Fischer House are part of a military-related CFC federation of 69 charities called the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organization of America).
CFC campaign donations to MVPSOA charities in 2008 decreased from 2007 by about 3.9 percent–even though overall donations to CFC increased by 1 percent.
Patrick Maguire, business manager for MVPSOA, called last year “a minor hiccup,” noting that since 2005, CFC donations to military-related charities have increased by 36 percent.
Still, he said he’s predicting a “flat” year for the 2009 campaign.
One reason military-related charities are feeling a pinch is that funding from the California Community Foundation is ending. Over the past three years, that foundation has funneled nearly $250 million to charities that help troops and families.
“Everyone had a tremendous plus-up and could increase services” through that initiative, said Coker of the Fisher House Foundation.
CFC donations play a big role in Fisher House’s ability to help troops and their families, Coker said. Among other things, those donation pay for families to stay free at Fisher House comfort homes near military treatment facilities. In 2008, the foundation received donations of $40 million, with about $2.6 million coming from the CFC.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a charity with a much smaller budget, has seen an increase in cash donation of about $3,000 or 4 percent, through July 31, compared with the first seven months of 2008.
“But if we didn’t have the [CFC] we would actually be down in donations,” said Karen Grimord, president and founder of the organization. “I’ve received three e-mails from donors in the last two months saying they could no longer support LHCP because they were losing their jobs.”
The foundation, working with 72 contacts in military and VA medical facilities, sends items, including blood warmers, special disposable wash cloths, thermal blankets, DVD players, and clothing ranging from disposable surgical underwear to socks, sweats and winter coats.
This will be LHCP’s first year in the MVPSOA federation, and Grimord said she hopes greater visibility will boost donations.
Some charities are close to the brink. “In the last three weeks, three military-related charities have told us they can no longer help clients – they have no money,” said USA Cares president Bill Nelson.
Many military-related charities work together, referring troops and families to sister charities that focus on a particular need, he noted. “Those of us who survive have to do more,” he said.
USA Cares focuses on emergency financial needs, including housing. The group has seen a drop of about 2 percent in donations this year, Nelson said.
Year-to-date donations for some military-related charities compared with same period last year:
Fisher House Foundation Percent of change -30% Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Percent of change -34% USA Cares Percent of change -.2% Landstuhl Hospital Care Project Percent of change +4%
I must say this is a great honor, thank you so much. I look forward to see you this coming month. The following is the small article you requested:
Since my early teenage years I have been involved in the Boy Scouts of America. To receive the final rank of Eagle in the organization, scouts are required to complete a service project showing their leadership skills.
Many of my friends who had received and completed their projects had chosen such service as cleaning trails, painting curbs, and food drives. Although all of these projects did great good for the local community I simply felt that none of them were right for me. I wanted a project that would not only complete the requirement for my rank, but one that I truly cared about.
When one of my mother’s friends told us about the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project I immediately knew this was the service I was looking for. I have a great love for my country and the freedoms and prosperity it provides; and I have great respect for those men and women who sacrifice so much to protect these freedoms. I quickly learned of the great work LHCP was doing for our men and women overseas, and how easy they made it for a scout like me to get involved.
With the help of family, friends, and the community I was able to put together a drive where we gathered everything from clothing to DVD’s for those troops in need. I believe that the project brought out the best in our community.
I was gratefully surprised to find how many still remembered our troops and were so willing to help. I know the chance to do my small part brought out the best in me as I was able to give back to those who have given so much to me.
Update: June 2011 Ms. Karen Grimord President and Founder Landstuhl Hospital Care Project
Dear Ms. Grimord
I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying the beginning of summer. I am, especially since school is winding down and graduation is this weekend!
This letter is sent to thank you for helping me earn national rankings as the National Runner Up for the American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for 2011 and for taking first place as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Eagle Scout of the Year for 2011. I never envisioned my efforts would take me this far, nor did I ever think I would still have an opportunity to talk abut the sacrifices of our service personnel and the good work of the Wounded Warrior Ministry, as I have during this competition.
I am sure you will remember at the first of the year, when I asked you for a letter of recommendation to meet requirements for awards offered by the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both awards are separate, but similar, scholarship award programs that look exclusively at Eagle Scouts across America, in an attempt to select the “Best Eagle Scout in the Nation”. My applications were thorough, requiring a lot of research and writing to document my Scouting Career and Eagle Scout Project. Once submitted, the review process was also long and equally thorough with the final award being announced on June 9th at the Department of Virginia, Veterans of Foreign Wars Annual Conference in Richmond, Virginia.
Reading the letters contained in the returned applications, I am thankful for the time and effort you placed in my letter and how much of an impact I know your letter offered in support of my applications. I cannot thank you enough and I appreciate your time in drafting your letter of recommendation, and especially in your interest in my efforts to have my Scouting work and Eagle Scout Project honored at the national level.
Announcements for both awards can be viewed on: www.legion.org, “What We Do” and “Scouting”, and www.vfw.org “Community” “Programs” “Scout of the Year”. At this time my awards total over $10,000, and are being sent directly to Bridgewater College, Bridgewater, Virginia as part of my tuition, or being placed in my “book fund” to pay for books and school computer.
Thank you again for all you have done to make my Eagle Scout project special and for your time and effort in writing my letter of endorsement. I feel that your words and letters made a difference. As you can imagine, the competition is intense and when competing in a field of over 1,000 Eagle Scouts, every letter is scrutinized and does define success for each applicant. Certainly, your letters made a difference for me.
Thank you for all you did towards my Eagle Scout Project, from Day 1 all the way to the End! It would not have been as successful without your help.
Yours in Scouting Baylor Dickerson Eagle Scout, Class of 2009
By Samantha L. Quigley/American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly 10,000 people walked the mile between Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon’s South Parking lot here to commemorate the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as part of today’s fourth annual National America Supports You Freedom Walk.
More than an hour after the walk began, the walkers watched as a well-known country music group took to the stage to perform a musical tribute.
“Did we mention the Oak Ridge Boys are here, and Secretary [Gordon] England, and the Oak Ridge Boys, and cabinet members and the Oak Ridge Boys?” asked Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he addressed the crowd.
Before turning the microphone back over to Fox News Channel Anchor Kelly Wright for the group’s formal introduction, Cartwright took a minute to thank a few groups.
He thanked those who are deployed on the nation’s behalf for “all of the things that they do, whether in uniform or civilian, to support this nation and serve so that we can get up every day free. Thank you to them.”
He went on to include another group: families.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t pick up on one other group, the group that supports us … so that we can serve, in uniform and as civilians, this nation,” he said. “Their contribution should never be forgotten.
“Did I mention the Oak Ridge Boys are coming out?” he joked with the crowd.
Shortly the air was filled with a familiar melody and the crowd’s unified voices as the Oak Ridge Boys led them in the national anthem
The musicians followed that up with their patriotic song, “Colors.”
“It’s one that’s red as the bloodshed, blue as the wounded, white as the crosses on our soldier’s graves,” they sang as they reached the chorus. “Through the rain, through the sun, these colors never run.”
“Now I’ve seen people treat her like she was some old rag, clueless to the human sacrifice,” they sang referring to the flag. “But you’ll always find a mother, a widow, a child, a sister or a brother with a carefully folded teardrop in their eyes.”
For some, those teardrops weren’t necessarily attached to a loved one’s passing, just the fear of the possible.
“I was sitting on the balcony of our building at 6th [Street] and Pennsylvania Avenue, watch the planes in the air not knowing if they were ours or if they belonged to a terrorist,” said Leeann Hall, as she remembered the Sept. 11, attacks. “My daughter was in school in Arlington, and I could see the planes flying near there. I thought, ‘Just stop. Just get away.’”
It’s that fear, the thought of what could have happened, that prompted Hall to participate in the walk. “I don’t want people ever to forget the terror we felt on that day and the importance of our freedom,” she said.
Her daughter, Samantha, now 14, was just in second grade on when terrorists hit the Pentagon.
“I don’t really remember, to be honest [what it was like that day,]” she said. “I’m not sure I really grasped what was going on, but now I definitely understand how severe and scary it really was.”
Another thing she understands is that the troops need continued support from back home. By participating in the walk with her mother, she showed that. “They’re protecting us and their families, and we just really need to appreciate that and how fortunate we are to have people who care,” she said.
Regardless of the solemnity of the walk, both mom and daughter were excited to hear the Oak Ridge Boys, and they weren’t alone.
Shelley Marshall, with Military Officers Association of America’s Scholarship Fund, was elated that the group was performing. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “I’m a country fan and … I think we’ve got the best seats in town!”
MOAA, as well as 25 other organizations that support America Supports You, were on hand to provide information to the walkers about what the groups do and how individuals can get involved.
The majority of the walkers and all of those representing the troop-support groups enjoyed the Oak Ridge Boys nearly hour-long musical tribute.
America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
Our third annual Poker Run at the Lt. Warren Eaton Post 189 in Norwich N.Y. went well. There was a threat of rain during the afternoon. As the saying goes, weather will not stop our cause for our Veterans serve us 24/7 and continue the mission no matter what the weather is.
We had 50 motorcycles and Legion Riders from the Various Posts; Oneonta Vets Club, Sackets Harbor, Munnsville, Waterville, Binghamton and Penn Yan PA.
We started off at 11:15 am with Bill Fowler leading the way. As we were turning to cross over the Chenango river and exiting Norwich our Norwich City Fire Department was on the side of the road with a Hook and ladder fire truck, the ladder was extended over Rexford St. with the American Flag suspended in the air. (Compliments from Jeff Stewart). What an awesome and touching site.
As we continued down the road with our first stop at the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford you can tell we road for a great cause. We met several veteran patients at the Vets Home and the Riders couldn’t stop talking about the Flag over the road and the spirit of why we were there that day. We had a group photo with a special Vietnam Veteran named Jim. Jim use to ride and was very appreciated we visited and gave him his wish, (a group photo).
As we road to Greene we stopped for ice cream, still no rain. Then off to Seebers Tavern in Smithville Flats for our third stop. The twenty minute stops were great, but as we were in Smithville the clouds started to come in from the South West and we were heading North. So off we went to the Balsam Inn in East Pharsalla. As we arrived it just started raining lightly and we took cover, however most of us just relaxed and enjoyed the moments.
After the Balsam Inn we kept to our route and went up County Rte 10, W to Route 23 East back to Norwich. As we turned onto Rte 23 the sun came out and the group formation was tight and flawless, the steady stream of motorcycles was so impressive! Most of the time I was a road guard and in the rear of the pack. Being in the back gives you a sense of protection and pride for the group and gives you a different perspective of following the true spirit of being free and working together as a team. The red taillights illuminate and let the person behind know we are there and that we are a group of Riders who pave the way!
As we approached Norwich and entered the Post we parked our Motorcycles in the big lot out back. It was impressive to see the smiles and enjoyment of the ride. Many couldn’t say enough about the beauty of the roads in Chenango County and the route we planned.
Once inside with rain on it’s way, we had an opening prayer and moment of silence for our combat veterans. The quote I used was;” For those that fought for it… Life has a flavor that the protected will never know”.
We started with door prizes from many local merchants that understood the cause. Then we had trophies to give out, Best Poker Hand with a $25 gas card, Worst Poker Hand with a $10 gas card, Choice Bike with gas card and a $25 gas card for longest distance to travel.
Everyone started to depart at 3:30 pm due the threat of heavy rain. As they were leaving I prayed for their safety and as the saying goes, keep the rubber on the road! The experience and dedication our fellow Legion Riders and guests showed they truly care enough to make a difference for the LHCP purpose!
I was honored to ride with many American Legion Riders groups from NY and PA. It is truly a reminder to be an American and respect what our Veterans are doing, both active, retired and for those that served. There were many supporters that truly understand our goals and mission to help our fellow comrades in need.
American Legion Riders, Post 189 President, Paul Russo
THE NEXT NORWICH RIDE IS ALREADY SCHEDULE FOR MAY 2, 2009
He might not be the first person you’d peg to be jumping up and down at the sight of a clothing sale, but Andrew Seamons, Jr. was having a hard time containing his excitement last Friday as he proudly showed off the bargains he had just snagged at an Old Navy store in Chesterfield.
Seamons’ booty consisted of armloads of pajama tops and bottoms, may drastically marked down in the post holday rush to clean out the stockrooms. His excitement, however, had little to do with saving a few dollars.
In November of 2007, Seamons initiated “PJs for Soldiers” to benefit troops wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The recently purchased pajamas Seamons had in his home Friday will soon be on their way to the US Army Combat Hospital in Baghadad. There, wounded soldiers who would normally have little more than the standard issue, open-backed hospital gown to wear, will be provided a measure of comfort and perhaps even a small reminder of home as they begin the recovery process.
Seamons, a member of Powhatan VFW Post 10570 and American Legion Post 201, first got the idea for the pajama project while talking to his nephew, CW4 Herman Murray, who is currently stationed in Baghdad.
“It’s something they need, because when they come to the hospital, and then when they are transported some where else, the open-backed gown just doesn’t cut it,” said Seamons.
“It’s also really a big moral boost when they get something that doesn’t have an open back…and it gives them warmth.”
To date, Seamons has sent 10 boxes of pajamas, which included 305 tops and bottoms. He has also sent out letters and made visits to area businesses seeking financial support for the project.
“My uncle and aunt along with the other local supporters from the Powhatan area are doing two things,” said Murray, via e-mail last week.
“One is they are immediately encouraging a wounded soldier by them having warm pajamas to put on, and two, the soldier is encouraged knowing that folks back home are supporting them.”
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project volunteers drove to Richmond to help Mr. Seamon repack and ship the many pajamas and scrubs that were donated by Owens & Minor Volunteer Council, Owens & Minor Corporate Office, Tri Club Woman’s Club, Dale Dotson and many other individuals and volunteer groups in the Richmond, Virginia area.
Congressional Caucus Embraces America Supports You
By John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service
A bipartisan congressional effort kicked off on Capitol Hill today to stand behind America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
“This is a tremendous priority on both sides of the aisle,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a co-chair of the America Supports You Caucus.
“Not a week goes by in my district … when we don’t have people asking us what they do to be a support to our military and their families,” he said. “America Supports You is such a wonderful resource for them, to be able to multiply their efforts, to be able to know what’s going on and to tap into them.”
When introduced in 2004 to highlight citizen support for U.S. service members, America Supports You comprised five organizations known as “home-front” groups.
The program has since branched into a network of more than 350 nonprofit organizations, companies and other supporters.
Representatives of three locally based home-front groups today described their troop-support missions to the audience gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service’s postmaster general announced a discount on mail sent abroad to military members.
One group on hand was Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, and is incorporated in Virginia, according to its official Web site.
Two McLean, Va.-based organizations also attended. Angels of Mercy cares for wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and other military hospitals, and also provides for Iraqi and Afghan schoolchildren. Our Military Kids, which joined America Supports You soon after the Pentagon program’s inception, supports children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and reserve personnel through grants of up to $500 for enrichment activities and tutoring.
Our Military Kids co-founder Linda Davidson expressed gratitude that Congress has agreed to work alongside the military and civilian sectors. “This America Supports You program is an example of an effective private-public partnership,” she said.
Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison — the architect of America Supports You — thanked the co-chairs for showing compassion and commitment to U.S. troops. Co-chairing the caucus with Schiff are Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California and Reps. Connie Mack and Allen Boyd of Florida.
“On behalf of over 2 million men and women in the military, their families and our veterans, this is an important day,” Barber said. “Today … we’re helping the American people know that their support matters and that through the America Supports You program they can find real, meaningful ways to show their support for our troops and their families.”
Boyd served as a rifle infantryman in Vietnam. He said that after returning from combat duty — an unpopular calling in many Americans’ eyes — he hoped no future conflict would divide the country in quite the same way.
“When I came to Congress, … one of the things I never wanted to happen was to have our men and women put on the uniform and go carry out a policy to defend this country that the leadership had made, and then the American people not appreciate them,” he said.
Mack (center) thanked volunteers of organizations that support our troops at a press conference announcing the launch of the Congressional America Supports You Caucus, of which Mack is a co-chair. Second from the left is Allison Barber, the spokeswoman for the America Supports You program at the Department of Defense.
Boyd said that while he was in Vietnam, receiving reminders of Americans’ support brightened his tour of duty. “I can tell you, when you’re out there and you’re getting the helicopters coming in every four days — hopefully to bring you resupplies and mail and care packages — that really is the highlight of the week for a soldier,” he said.
Citing the importance of the military “mail call,” Postmaster General John E. Potter today announce a reduction in the cost of flat-rate boxes sent from the United States to a military address abroad. “It’s the way (troops) get that little touch of home … from the American people telling them how important the work that they’re doing is,” he noted.
Bono Mack said it’s critical that American citizens show appreciation to U.S. troops making sacrifices throughout the world. “I’m proud to see so many groups, both in my district and throughout the nation, taking on this important cause,” she added.
Army Brig. Gen. Gary Patton, director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff office and an America Supports You spokesman, said he was inspired by the outpouring of support for service members.
“For everybody that’s had a part of that,” he said, “I want to thank you.”
Away from the rigors of combat last night on an evening dedicated to their selfless service, the only shootout troops worried about was between dueling National Hockey League teams.
During Military Appreciation Night at the Verizon Center here, the Washington Capitals honored some 5,000 servicemembers and their families with free admission and hosted dozens of wounded warriors from military hospitals. From the giant high-definition screen hanging from the arena’s ceiling, shout-outs to servicemembers and videos featuring troops and hockey pros projected onto some 18,000 fans attending the Capitals-New York Islanders contest.
At a pre-game reception in the Dewar’s Club, with fat snowflakes visible through the window behind the podium, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England spoke to a crowd of about 100 VIP guests. England, using themes of inclement weather and the night’s main event, took a playful swipe at his boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who injured his shoulder last week after slipping on an icy pathway near his home.
“You know, the secretary is on injured reserve now because he encountered some ice outside,” he said. “So it’s nice to be here with an ice rink where it all belongs.”
On a serious note, England said military appreciation nights are significant because they bring together Pentagon civilians, military members and business people for one common cause: to thank those who serve the United States to preserve American freedom and liberty. “We are absolutely blessed to have these men and women who serve and all of those who serve for them,” he added.
England was introduced by Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. Barber is the founder of America Supports You, a program that connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad, which organized the military-themed evening.
“America Supports You is a DoD program that makes it easy for everyone in America to find a way to support our troops and our families,” she added.
Before the puck dropped, Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited with America Supports You home-front group members tending to kiosks and booths in the main concourse. As Cartwright made his rounds, fans ogled the shiny brass stars on the general’s shoulders. “Who’s that four-star?” one former Marine, who later introduced himself to the vice chairman, was overheard to say.
Asked how valuable efforts by networks like America Supports You groups are for channeling public support for the military, the general said the benefits are three-fold.
“It makes the troops and their families aware of what opportunities are available to them and it gives people an opportunity to contribute in a way that may not be in a foxhole, and to be given the booth space and acknowledged makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “(Events) like this bring all the pieces together.”
The general said that American support for troops — perhaps at a historic low when he joined the Marines during the Vietnam War era — is critical to men and women in uniform.
“To understand what you’re doing makes a difference and that it’s appreciated by somebody is 90 percent of what we go out there and fight for is that feeling,” he said. “And to lose that feeling is to lose the motivation that you have in the foxhole day in and day out.”
Army Staff Sgt. Gary Heffernan, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a member of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” speakers outreach program, was on hand for the game. The Boston native, who said his father played goalie in the National Hockey League, acknowledged that Americans aren’t obliged to display their support for the military.
“So when businesses like the Capitals reach out to the military, it’s enormous,” he said. “Even when little businesses or schools reach out and say, ‘Hey, we support you,’ it’s enormously meaningful, because the reason why we fight is for the people.”
Asked why he thinks they choose to show their support, Heffernan said, “Because they love us. There’s no other reason for it.”
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis told guests gathered at the pre-game reception that this is the sixth year the Capitals have held military appreciation night. The Caps had won four of the five previous ones, but on this night the Islanders topped the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout.
Leonsis’ father, who came to America from Greece, spent seven years in the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Bunker Hill. Leonsis told the crowd his last memory of his father, who died at age 95 in September, was when Navy sailors honored his memory at the cemetery during his burial.
The flag that was laid over Leonsis’ father’s casket and presented to the Leonsis family is on display in the Capitals owner’s office.
“My father was an American first and foremost, and instilled in all of us the spirit of competitiveness and what a great country this is,” Leonsis said. “We should never lose sight that our country is made up of individuals, and the men and women who serve our country really deserve our respect and our thanks, and this is our small way of doing it.”
Army Lt. Col. Steve Szewc, who works at the Pentagon as an assistant to the director of the Army staff, said the military appreciation night is a good way to show support for military members of all ranks.
“I think this is a great opportunity for the senior leadership to mix with the troops. It’s a good, casual forum, and it also lets servicemembers know there are people out there supporting them,” he said. “It’s more than what you see in the day-to-day news.”
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project felt a little post-Valentine’s Day “love” Feb. 16, thanks to the American Legion Post in Woodbridge.
The non-profit raised thousands of dollars during a Sweethearts for Heroes dinner dance at American Legion Post 364.
“We are proud to help those who help the troops that defend our freedom on a daily basis,” said Post Commander Thom Karlson. “Supporting our troops is what the American Legion is all about.”
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded due to their service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
Donated items are distributed to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States; to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to VA facilities throughout the United States.
“Many people ask why the government is not doing more in supplying the needs that we are providing our troops,” said LHCP president and founder Karen Grimord of Stafford. “Most of these comfort and care items are not contained in the Army classes of supply.”
When wounded service members arrive at Landstuhl, they are issued a $250 voucher for personal items by the Department of Defense, she continued.
“They receive the voucher and think it is a wonderful thing,” Grimord said, “who would not think that $250 is great? But when they walk into the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center and see all the items that have been sent to them by their fellow countrymen, a look of amazement comes over their faces. They cannot believe that people still care enough to send them comfort and care items.”
Dozens of couples attended the fundraising event, which featured a buffet dinner and dancing to the tunes of The Radford Brothers Band.
“I have recently moved to the area and a friend asked me to attend the Sweethearts for Heroes dinner/dance benefit for LHCP,” said Tom Spice. “I am a Vietnam veteran and was a patient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Anything that I can do for my fellow veterans, I am there. It is great to see the support the American people and nonprofits like LHCP are giving our soldiers today.”
“I can say everyone there had a big heart,” said Karen Monk. “I will let our soldier’s know that they are appreciated, in my prayers and in my heart through my participation in LHCP.”
I wish to thank all those that shared their heart with me in supporting our troops on this special night.
The Wounded Warrior Ministry Center began as some boxes in a hallway, full of donations from the staff and community. Today, it fills a couple of temporary buildings, something of a miniature PX where Landstuhl patients can pick up personal items to get them through a few days at the hospital. All the items represent the generosity of American people, says Landstuhl’s senior chaplain., Col. James Griffith. “Civilian clothes are not a class of military supply,” he says. “This is more like humanitarian aid to our soldiers.”
Patients usually take one to two t-shirts, tow white undershirts, a sweatshirt and loose-fitting sweat pants, two to three pairs of boxers or boxer briefs, four pairs of socks, shower shoes and a duffel bag to carry it all. Women’s undergarments are also stocked, as well as house slippers, athletic shoes, flannel pajama bottoms, washcloths, nail clippers and travel-size toiletries: deodorant, shampoo, shaving gel, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Donations also allow the “chaplain’s closet” to offer CDs, DVDs handheld games, phone cards, puzzle books, snack bars, chocolate, candy, chewing gum, and greeting cards for family or friends.
The hospital can’t, and doesn’t, solicit contributions, so Griffith credits churches, charities and veterans service organizations – including The American Legion – for providing these and other comfort items that he says make a patient’s stay “a bit more palatable and a bit more pleasant.” Dozens of boxes arrive every day. Since 9/11, an estimated $2 million in goods and money have been donated.
Volunteers pay their own way to Germany to work at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center. Last year, Karen Grimord of Stafford, VA., spent 30 days there, receiving deliveries and making sure patients found items they needed. With a father, father-in-law, husband, son, son-in-law, two brothers, brother-in-law, cousin and two nephews who are veterans – “an American Legion Family,” she says – Grimord pours a lot of time and money into helping LRMC.
“It’s the troops,” she says. “All you’ve got to do is talk to them, and you know right away that you have to do more.”
While the Department of Defense gives all OEF and OIF patients a $250 voucher to the Army/Air Force Exchange Service, that money stretches only so far. So Grimord founded the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which posts a list of what the hospital needs – and doesn’t need – at LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org. Patients, for instance, don’t want full-size toiletries; most stay only a few days. Old magazines, men’s briefs, single razor blades, water bottles, canned food and adaptive foot or hand covers also take up valuable space.
So what do they want? Dark clothes are in – black, gray, blue. And nothing with a corporate logo; patients don’t want to feel like a walking advertisement. But they do have a sense of humor. Last fall, soldiers went bananas over a large donation of flannel pants featuring the “Sarge” character from the Pixar/Walt Disney animated film “Cars.”
“They’re the most popular PJ’s I’ve seen in three years of volunteering,” Grimord says, laughing. “Sarge is loved dearly.”
Every year since 2004 ProLogic-Inc. in Manassas has sponsored a contest that encourages staffers to decorate their doors for the holiday season as a team building exercise.
This year, Angie Hawkins, the company’s director of corporate security, decorated her door with a patriotic flair and came in second place in the contest.
“This year I decided that my theme would be based on supporting our troops and their families,” explained Hawkins, who has worked for ProLogic for five years and has oversight of the company’s entire corporate security infrastructure. “I encouraged staff members to donate time, money and encouragement to these organizations.”
White wrapping paper with blue and green snowflakes served as the backdrop for a photo of a HUMVEE, a Christmas tree made out of construction paper decorated with yellow ribbons and information about how the public can support the nation’s military on Hawkins’ door.
Employees judged each door during a punch and cookies ceremony at the end of the two-week competition in December. After the votes were counted each winner was given a monetary gift based on their placement in the contest.
Hawkins donated her $75 in winnings to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project and made a dollar-for-dollar match of the winnings. When combined with other contributions Hawkins’ collected, she donated a total of $250 to LHCP, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
Donated items are distributed to military patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the U.S.; to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq; and to VA facilities throughout the United States.
“I have never met Ms. Hawkins, but there is no need to to know we are connected,” said LHCP president Karen Grimord. “I have six family members that have served in the Middle East, one serving his second tour now. We both know what it means to the troops to know they have our support. I just put a thank you note on our Web site LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org from a troop that received some of our packages and in part it says, ‘I want to say a huge thank you to those who have been supporting Seabees, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen here and abroad with unbelievable gifts. You have reminded not only us here but the gals and guys in uniform that we treat that we matter to you. We’re so grateful for that support.’ Ms. Hawkins and her group have made it possible to continue our mission of support into the New Year.”
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.