Navy Warrior Transition Program

2013 farewell from LHCP
2013 farewell from LRMC

“WOW! I have just met the most amazing group of people”. Karen Grimord, Founder and President of Landstuhl Hospital Care Group is talking about the Navy Warrior Transition Program at Sembach, Germany.

The WTP was started in 2007 and was located at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. In December, 2012 the Program moved to Sembach. The mission of the WTP is to transition Sailors from combat to more normal activities when they return to their units, home and community.

While Karen was volunteering this year at LRMC, she met the folks at the WTP and toured the Warrior Transition Program facilities at Sembach. Karen writes that during a normal ship deployment, as Sailors returned to homeport the Navy would fly social workers out when the ship approached port. The Social Workers would do a Return and Reunion briefing as the Sailors came into port. When on deployment and working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, Sailors become locked into a circle of comrades and supporting friendships. Leaving this environment and returning to their own families has the potential to bring up grief issues. This point is emphasized during the Social Workers Briefing for their return home to family and friends. The hope is that will recall the messages given them the Return and Reunion brief and use them if or when needed.

Both Navy mental health providers and Navy Chaplains have been working with returning service members since the beginning of the current conflict. Navy mental health providers realized in 2003, while working with Marines and Seabees, that when service members fly home rather than sail home, the transition provided by the ship-board experience with comrades and buddies doesn’t happen. That’s where this unique program (WTP) comes in as an important step of helping returning sailors.

The Warrior Transition Program is critical to the continued health and readiness of Sailors. WTP follows the Sailor’s completion of his or her tour and prior to their return home. Sailors travel approximately 3 days from Afghanistan to arrive at Ramstein Air Base and then to Sembach, Germany. Each Sailor is provided 3-5 days of decompression time, which helps them get prepared for their return to “normalcy”.

Karen writes about her visit with the Warrior Transition Program, “I have to admit that I have not been as impressed, or felt so in awe of such an operation/program for several years now. Not that LRMC, or other installations/facilities do not have good programs; but maybe I have come to expect it. However, the devotion, commitment and most importantly enthusiasm the staff at WTP have towards their fellow battle buddies, left me speechless. As a Navy Mom, I sat in their short briefing to the redeployed troops and was not only proud of this fine group of people, but also very comforted by the words of the skipper and his staff. This comfort translated into knowing that not only my son, but also others are being well taken care of by the Navy through this initiative.”

Karen continues, “William Butler Yeats once said, ‘A symbol is indeed the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame…’ This was very evident as they did their “bag drop”, gear and weapons put down and stored away at the end of their mission. I was struck deeply by a staff member who said that, ‘When they drop their bags, they leave more than their gear.’ It can be emotional for many. As for those at the WTP there is no way to express my feeling of amazement and respect. As a Navy Mom, my most sincere thank you.”

Landstuhl Hospital Care Project is committed to providing comfort and care items to service members serving so far from home. We are happy to partner with the Warrior Transition Program to aid transitioning Sailors and the team that supports them through the WTP.

Reported by Donna Bolen as told by Karen Grimord.

Attached are some photos of our wounded warriors on their tour of Germany but more importantly away from the hospital and war zone. The inside of the bus is at the end when we got back to the hospital.  In the morning everyone is quite and keeping to themselves.  As you can see on the way back they all are talking and having some fun.

LRMC Staff and Patients Enjoy Day Out
LRMC Staff and Patients Enjoy Day Out
Bus Tour
Bus Tour

Walking with Patients
Walking with Patients

Patient Tour
Patient Tour

 

Someone’s Son or Daughter

This morning started with refilling shelves at the CCC. As I was heading to lunch I walked into some troops with that “lost” look on their face. I asked them if I could help them find something. Yes, they were looking for the CCC. I told them to follow me and I went back to the CCC to help them. As we walked the hall one of them explained that they were Georgia troops. Not the Georgia north of Florida and south of Tennessee but the Georgia that is North of Turkey and South of Russia. Georgia covers a territory smaller than South Carolina and slightly larger than West Virginia, with approximately 4.5 million residents. If I understand what I have been told in the past from Georgian troops, Georgia is the largest non-Nato contributor to the Afghanistan mission. I have never met a Georgian patient that spoke English. There is a Georgian translator here to help the Georgia patients. I first introduced myself to the Georgian wheel chair patient and then to the other 3 Georgian troops. I asked the translator to explain everything to the patients. I gave a very short explanation of the CCC and then went about filling the duffel bag for the patient in the wheel chair. He had a trach in and was having some difficulties. As we moved around the CCC I noticed he had a very large round scar on his chest. When they are sitting in front of you in a hospital gown I don’t look at them as US troop, Canadian troop or Georgia troop. I look at them as someone’s son or daughter and this one had at one time a massive blast to his chest. As we moved around the CCC he was amazed at the items available for free. He was hesitate to take items but I explain that some little old grandma sent these items for him and once the interrupter told them what I said they smiled and took a pillow from Judy in Michigan and a blanket from a LHCP church group in Arizona. As they were leaving, the patient reached up to shake my hand. He had a little bit of a problem reaching out to my hand so I bent down and forward to him and told him THANK YOU and it was my pleasure to help him. I also told him (through the translator) that if he needed any more help to come back. That he did not need the translator with him that he and I would figure out what he needed. He may have been very thin and weak but he made sure he shook my hand with a firm grip.

Saturday we had a patient trip. We had approximately 17 patients. LHCP is paying for the lunch these wounded warriors eat at a local German restaurant, thanks in part to Callie in North Carolina. As they all sat down at their tables one of the chaplain staff explained to them where they were at and what the building was. It was also explained that LHCP was paying for their lunch. They were asked to show by hand how many had been to the CCC. 75% raised their hands. They were then told that 95% of the items in the CCC was donated by LHCP. As their lunch was being placed in front of them I was introduced to them. I did not stand or speak as we are not there to be in their face. We are here to have their backs. However, as each of them left the restaurant they came by to thank LHCP for their “day away” from the life at the hospital. As one of them left, he thanked me. I told him it was “our pleasure”. His battle buddy turned back around to face me and he said “ma’am you have no idea what this means to us”.

Today was a rather busy day it reminded me of the times in 2006 and 2007 when it was routine for 14 to 20 wounded to come in to the CCC for help at one time. It still amazes me after all these years that the patients are amazed at the support that is provided by us at home. I am very proud and honored to be part of LHCP. Every pillow except one that was taken today was a LHCP pillow. Approximately 50% of the quilts and fleece blankets that were taken today were made by LHCP members. Every duffel bag that is taken is due to LHCP monetary donors. 90% of the zip-up hoodies and winter jackets are again from LHCP donors.

The CCC has some items that they will just never run out of due to the quantity that has been sent here over the years such as socks, shaving cream, under shirts, just to name a few of the items. There are needs that seem to always be on their wish list and I hope that I can turn to you to help us collect these items. We are in need of toe nail clippers, black shorts in all sizes and travel size mouth wash.

Leave With A Smile

Wednesday

I arrived in Germany about 830 am. We drove to LRMC; gave and received hugs from many that have been here for years. I was introduced to many new volunteers and staff. I helped several young men but three kind of stood out to me. The first one was a Marine who was brought in by his Marine liaison. He was being discharged as an in-patient and was moving to the out-patient barracks until he could go home. He was still very sore from his surgery so we took it slow around the different aisles to get sweat pants and shirt, boxers, socks and undershirts, a few long sleeve shirts, pillow and blanket. He was not feeling well and had to excuse himself to the rest room as I continued to put toiletry items together. When he felt better I asked him about tennis shoes and he said he would love a new pair but the pair he had on was good. They were rather worn so I asked him what size and found him a pair that put a smile on his face. It does my heart so much good to see these young men and woman come in sore, tired and worn out but leave with a smile.

The second patient came in and gave me one of the firmest handshakes I have had in a long time. His whole body was tense and everything began or ended with “Yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”. I asked him how long he had been at LRMC and where was he coming from. He told me he was a 9 Charlie patient. That means he is a mental health patient. They have a special place in my heart due to a very early LRMC trip experience with 9 Charlie patients. We can see the physical damage but the mental health problems can be harder not only for the patient but for us to understand. As a 9 Charlie patient they are not allowed all free access to every item the Clothing Closet has to offer. We started the process of filling his bag with sweats, shirts and socks. After the first couple items went into his bag and 20 or so “ma’ams”. I stopped took a couple steps toward him put out my hand and introduced myself again as “Karen”. I looked him straight in the face with a slight smile and waited for his reply he gave me his first name and I told him it was very nice to meet him. His back was half turned to his escort and I leaned in and told him that I did not wear a uniform. I was at LRMC to help and be a friend if he wanted. He smiled and from that moment on I was “Karen”. He asked for a couple of the restricted items and either I or his escort told him we were sorry but he would have to come back after he was discharged from 9 Charlie to receive those items. I asked him about new sneakers and he said he would love a new pair. When the shoes were on, his facial expression changed. The only way I can describe it is as a glow of joy. I asked him if there was anything more he could think of or that he saw that he might like. He picked out a winter jacket and was finished with his bag of joy. I told him that if there was anything else he needed to come back and see me. He said he would like that and put out his hand for me to shake. I looked down a little to see his face that was facing the floor and told him that a hand shake was such a formal gesture that as a mom would it be ok to give him a “mom hug”. He immediately leaned forward and I gave him a hug. I have to say that was the strongest hug I have received in a very long time. He held on for a good while and I could feel his shoulders and back muscles release. When we released he looked up at me and then bent down to his bag to zip it up. As he was standing up he said “I feel happy, I have not felt like this in a very long time.” Since most of the items on the Clothing Closet shelves were sent by LHCP members and donors I want to thank you for making this young man “happy” for making his face glow with joy as he left the CC.

LRMC 2013
LRMC Chaplain Clothing Closet staff with
LHCP President, Karen Grimord

 

 

LandstuhlHospitalCareProject 2011 – 2012

 

Landstuhl Hospital Care ProjectI am often asked why we are still shipping boxes since our troops are no longer in Iraq. It is easy we still have units in Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, and more. Then I am asked well you must not ship as many boxes. As of this morning we have matched the number of boxes shipped all of last year and we still have just over a month left to the year. Many of our units explain that LHCP is the ONLY non profit supporting them. LRMC told CBS News that we are their largest supporter. Many non profits have closed up their doors or moved to different efforts. YOU have made it possible to continue to support our wounded warriors and those that provide care to them.

THANK YOU!!

 
Karen Grimord
Founder, President and Packer
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project
Awarded Independent Charities Seal of Excellence
CFC #12282
 
 
 

Unconditional Love

Tuesday

Well I have done about all I can do this year.  Our wounded numbers are down, but the seriousness of the wounds is up. Today I went to deliver some items to ICU and as I stood outside a room waiting, I saw an image I wish everyone could see.  It was not that he was a typical, good looking man about mid 30’s.  It was not the fact that the man in the ICU bed was hooked to every machine possible.  It was not the fact that he was an amputee.  It was that as he slept, his wife sat next to him with a loving, but concerned look on her face.  His bed sat quite a bit higher than her chair and she sat there wrapped in her shawl watching him as he slept.  It was an image that I had a difficult time looking away from.  I really did not look at him, but at his wife.  If it was at all possible to look at someone with so much love that it heal them, she would have been the one.  When the staff was finished with what I had delivered, I moved on, but that image will be forever in my mind.

Tonight I stood outside the USO and listened to new troops talk about all the wonderful, beautiful things that had happened since arriving at LRMC.  Most would think that a strange statement, since they were all patients.  However, several were thankful for the 10 minute hot shower.  One had not had a shower for over two weeks.  That shower was almost all cold water.  Another man said his last shower was 12 days ago and he had hot water, but it was either all hot or all cold.  Another said that he had thought rain had completely disappeared.  He said he had not seen rain since March 30th.  Another waited to speak and all he said was, “this is paradise,” and he felt like he might finally be able to relax.

Today I worked 9.5 hours in honor of Sharon Buck, LHCP’s treasurer.  Sharon has been with LHCP from almost the very beginning.  She manages to keep the Board and all our finances organized.  Her help has been invaluable!  Thank you, Sharon!

Giving Back

 Monday

Today has been a nasty cold and rainy day.  I seem to have been all over the place with different tasks.  This morning I stocked some of our towels and pillows on the shelves.  We ran to Ramstein to pick up water and sodas for the Tuesday and Wednesday dinners.  We ate lunch pretty quickly and then went back to the hospital.  We received a call from one of the wards asking if we had reading glasses.  I asked what prescription strength and it was a minor correction.  The Chaplain’s Clothes Closet does not have any, but I had my personal pair in my purse and would deliver them to the patient.

On the way to drop off the glasses, I ran into the patient that I mentioned in Saturday’s post.  He was sitting at the end of the hall.  He saw me first and spoke.  It was obvious something was not right.  I asked him if he was feeling ok.  He said that they are readmitting him.  I could not believe how his appearance had changed just from Saturday.  I sat and talked to him for a short period of time.  My heart just broke.  He was on the verge of tears, but he managed to hold it.  He said he just wanted his body back.  I asked him what ward was he going to and he told me he did not know.  He had been waiting for someone to come and take him up.  I told him that I could take him upstairs if he could get permission.  I pushed him to the front desk and they gave permission for me to take him up.

I started pushing him in the chair and realized I still had the reading glasses in my hand. I got him to his ward and into his bed.  He has lost so much weight in just the few weeks I have known him.  He has no bum to cushion him while he sits.  His collar bones are now very present.  He managed to roll from the chair to the bed and I could tell he was in a lot of pain, but he did it.  We got him covered, but his tech said he needed to get into a gown.  I asked him if there was anything more I could do for him and he said no he was just happy to get help going to his new bed.  I explained I had to deliver the reading glasses but would be back.  I went down a couple more wards and delivered the reading glasses.  That patient asked me how I found them and I told him it was not difficult.  He said they were very nice glasses and could not believe we found him a pair.  He was extremely grateful.  There was no reason to tell him they were mine.  He is the patient in the hospital with not much to do but read and watch TV.  I will tell Brian what I did; he will roll his eyes and say I would give away all my clothes if I was not always so cold.  LOL, it was all good.

I went back to see my very young patient, but he was still being in processed so I told him I would be back.  I contacted his liaison and had him bring the patient his lap top from his outpatient room.  When I went back before I was off work, he had his lap top.  I took him a little stuffed squirrel wearing a denim jacket, and a DS game system that I brought from the states.  I also gave him the last IPOD Shuffle and ITunes card so he could download some music.  When I pulled the Shuffle from my purse, he just looked at it and then he took it in his hands and just stared at it.  I know he knew what it was, but I don’t think he could believe he would be able to listen to music.  I had to tell him twice that it was his.  He reached out his hand for me to take and then he leaned forward for me to give him a kiss on the cheek.  I left him with his gifts and told him I would be back tomorrow.

This is the difficult part of the trip.  So many of the patients come and go while I am here, but they are moving forward in their care.  The last few days of my trip, I leave our patients to continue on with the LHCP mission, but I feel my heart is being ripped out each time I must leave them while they still finish their care here.

This young man will eventually go back to the Lone Star state.  I wish he was closer so I could continue to check in on him.  He has a home forever in my heart.

I worked 9 hours today thanks to Callie Jordan.  Callie has been a member of LHCP for almost six years.  She is also a member of Stitches of Love, creating beautiful handmade items for our wounded warriors.  Thank you for all your years of support, Callie!

Rhine River Cruise

Saturday

Saturday was our weekly cruise down the Rhine River with our patients. It was a little windy, chilly and cloud cover. Our patient in the wheel chair went. Germany is not as wheel chair friendly as the USA. We got him on the boat and then the restaurant but not without lifting him and some pulling. I believe he looks worse than he did on Thursday, but he has a lot of spunk and spirit. This is the last lunch LHCP will pay for while I am here. Thanks to many of you who made donations toward this trip, we have served up a lot of love and relaxation with the lunches on these trips. As we started to return to LRMC the weather turned nicer. Figures doesn’t it.

I worked 11 hours today.


Sunday

Time to wash clothes.

Too Funny

Tuesday

Yesterday and today were very slow days for patient arrival.  We did have some come in the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet to pick out their free clothing.  After all these years, they are still surprised that so many people back home still care enough to ship care packages.  One of the young men that came in could not believe that we gave him a brand new duffel bag.  He asked how it was possible and one of the volunteers told him who I was and what LHCP does.  She told him that all the duffel bags were from LHCP and he just stood there like a deer in headlights.  Then he gave me a big hug and said to tell all of our donors thank you.

This afternoon I was out distributing supplies.  When I returned to the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet, one of our wounded warriors saw me before I saw him.  As soon as I walked into the Closet, he jumped from around the corner and scared me.  He was laughing so hard, he could barely speak.  I do not handle being scared very well.  My son scared me once in the dark and I took him to the floor with one punch.  He was on his back with legs and arms in the air laughing and saying, “Mom it is me, it is Jeremy.”  My daughter turned on the light before I stopped.  Thank goodness I did not hurt him; even though I was punching him, he thought it was very funny that he scared me that bad.  The patient had the same reaction as my son.  I told him that he was lucky that I did not hurt him.  He just kept laughing saying it would have been worth it.  MEN you really have to wonder about them sometimes!

Today I also got to Ramstein AFB to visit the CASF.  The Ramstein CASF receives patients who are medically evacuated from the Middle East to LRMC.  The CASF also helps evacuate patients back to the Middle East or stateside.  LHCP has been supporting them for several years.  They seem to be well taken care of right now.  The items they are in need of will come from the LRMC surplus.  We may be able to delete them from our web page since they are well covered from the local community.  That is great news!!

I have been tasked with being the A driver for the wounded warriors tour tomorrow.  I hope it is not much walking, because my feet are starting to swell.  I walked 5 miles just in the hospital today.

That’s it for now and it is bedtime once again.  I worked 9 hours today.

My work Saturday, Monday, and today was in honor of Deadra Nelson.  Deadra is another long-time supporter of LHCP and I want to thank her for her years of support to our wounded warriors!

WOW, It Is So Green here

Monday

The weather has finally turned nice again.  This morning, as patients arrived, I was standing outside talking to a LRMC employee.  The first thing I heard from one of the patients is something I have heard year after year.  “WOW, it is so green here,”  as he was staring at the grass next to the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet,  and said, “that grass over there looks so nice, I would just like to go lay in it.”  Just as he finished saying this, a loud pop from the parking lot was heard.  I am not sure what it was, but it sounded like it could have been someone smashing a soda can on the asphalt.  As far as I could see, each of the newly arrived patients from the field jumped and exclaimed every word imaginable.  One patient went down to a knee immediately; even though they were safe in Germany, their bodies and minds were still on high alert.

We have cleared out almost 12 feet of storage space and now the winter jackets can be brought in from the bunkers before it snows.  I have never seen so many beanie hats, rosary beads, decks of cards, stationary, pens and pencils in my life.  I spoke with several patients tonight and even though it is a nice evening, (about 60 degrees) the patients are arriving from 100 degree weather and they are very cold.  I ran into one patient on Sunday that had on all of his military winter gear.  He had the flaps down over his ears and the facemask covering his mouth and nose.  He said he could not believe how cold it was here.  It takes them about a week to get their bodies adjusted to the temperature here in Germany.

I would say 99% of the pillows on the shelf in the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet are LHCP Stitches of Love pillows.  There were several pillows that got lots of comments today.  When I looked at the pillow it had a LHCP tag with the name Kitty Grandma of NC, Maria is that right?  I know it is your mom.  (That’s right, Karen.  She has 8 grandkitties!)  The pillow had tropical fish on it and another had cartoon characters.  The cartoon went first and one of the fish went second.  Callie, you did good, great job!

Dealing With Guilt

September 15, 2012 Saturday

I was up at 6:00 AM to be ready for the wounded warrior tour down the Rhine River, again.  We had a smaller group today and the weather was not as nice as our last outing.  I talked to one young man who said he felt guilty for being here as a patient.  When I asked him why, he said that he looks at some of the patients and thinks to himself, “I am not shot and I am not an amputee.”  He went on to say that he felt like he should be able to control his condition by himself.  I have observed over time that many, if not all of the patients have guilt of one sort or another.  They have guilt for leaving their families back home, they have guilt for leaving their comrades down range, they have guilt about being sick or wounded.  I don’t know how many times I have said, “it is normal to have guilt; however, if you are not at 100% you will not help anyone.”  There is a reason they are all here, but sometimes the psychological guilt they harbor can be worse than the actual reason that brought them to the hospital.  Guilt is a difficult emotion to come to terms with and control.

I worked 11 hours today


September 14, 2012 Friday

I worked 7 hours today.


September 12, 2012 Wednesday

It is a cold, rainy and windy day. I worked 8 hours today.

LHCP’s Honorees

Monday

Today was spent doing the same as I have done on previous days; I pushed two carts around the hospital trying to clear out more excess donations.  However, there is still so much more to clear out.  Tomorrow will be spent packing up excess donations to go to LHCP units in Afghanistan.  This afternoon a mom, who is flying back with her son, needed a pair of comfortable shoes and I had to go to the storage room to find her size.

As many of you already know, LHCP dedicates donation shipments each month to a different fallen military member.  Each box shipped has an 8×11 address label and above the address is our current honoree’s story.  Because we buy new, sturdy boxes many of our LHCP boxes are utilized to store donation items.

Upon entering the storage area where the shoes are kept, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of honoree labels staring me in the face.  Looking at the shelves in front of me, I could see our LHCP boxes lying on their side with the bottom of the box toward the wall and the address labels facing the front.  The amount of honoree stories on those boxes took me off guard and I found myself standing in the middle of a 6×18 room looking at all of their names.  I felt like I could not breathe for a moment because I realized that so many states were represented on these labels, but more significant was the fact that they represented fathers, sisters, sons, and cousins, etc.  My eyes jumped from box to box and my brain was taking a mental note; there is Amy, Ryan, Jason, Daniel, Riley, and Buddy.  I felt honored and sad at the same time.  Suddenly in the midst of all this, the silence was broken by a young man at the door asking for my help; my attention shifted to assist with his needs.  The young man was in need of directions and once I gave him the information, it was back to the Chaplain’s Closet with shoes in hand; leaving the many LHCP boxes behind once again, along with the each of the honoree’s short, sweet stories of devotion and sacrifice.  I felt the donations were in good company, watched over by those brave fallen men and women waiting for the next wounded warrior in need of items the boxes contained.

Today I worked 10 hours thanks to Callie Waddell.  Without her support over the many years, LHCP would be short hundreds of pillows and other items.  Callie has been a very big donor and supporter.

Thank you Callie

War and Youth

Friday

Today is Friday.  This week seems to have gone very fast.  I went to one of the bunkers that LRMC Chaplain’s Clothes Closet (CCC) uses to store excess supplies.  WOW!!   That is all I can say.  I stood there in amazement at a bunker larger than my house – full of items.  They have three bunkers, all full.  The CCC and LHCP have been putting out a “Do not send” list for years.

The items they have in storage…well…wow!  They have so many aqua-colored shoes, I don’t know if they will ever get rid of them all.  They have containers upon containers of lotion, cotton balls, combs, conditioner, paperback books, magazines, decks of cards, pens, stationary, blank cards – the list just continues on and on.  Storage space is precious at LRMC and it has been taken up by items they just don’t use.  I need to try to help them clear some of this out, but I just don’t know if it is possible.  I am hoping that our units in the Middle East can use some of it, but I am afraid much of it will not be used by anyone.  They also continue to have expiration dates expire on toiletry items before it arrives at LRMC or will expire soon after it arrives.

Today I am going to take one of our IPOD shuffle donations to a wounded warrior in ICU.  I was asked to deliver it to him personally.  I knew it would be difficult, but after all these years it still gets to me worse than I thought it would.  The liaison and I went up and the patient had been moved from his bed to a bed/chair.  They were asking him if he wanted to move back to his bed and even though he could not speak the word “no,” we all understood that the sound that he made meant no.   The liaison told him why I was there; he explained the CCC and LHCP.  The patient just looked at me.  I thought about my own family members that have been deployed and I realized I was putting them in that bed.  I had to choke back what I was feeling and told him that I was happy to meet him and that I wanted to give him one of the IPODs.  One member of his family was flown in to be by his side and since the warrior was paralyzed from the neck down, I gave it to his brother.  I turned to look at the warrior and he had a smile on his face. This man is younger than my son and I just melted.  I asked the brother if I could give the patient a kiss on the forehead.  I then asked the patient if I could give him a kiss on the forehead.  Both answered with a yes and so as difficult as it was, I gave him a whisper of a kiss on his forehead.  My heart was pounding so hard by then I knew I did not have much time before it overwhelmed me.  As I started to leave the room, we were told that a 3-star general was outside our door and could we please wait.  I do not seek out “distinguished visitor” visits.  I am uncomfortable and would rather seek out a patient or a box to unpack.  I squeezed by everyone in the room and stuck myself in the corner.  It was all going well until the liaison said he would like to introduce me to the 3-star.  I whispered no to the liaison before he could get the first couple of his words out, but it did not work.  The general asked about LHCP, the CCC, and my yearly visits.  Then he thanked me and asked that I be sure to thank all our members and donors.  After he stepped out of the room, I made my silent departure.

I went back down to the CCC and found two large carts of excess supplies waiting for me to find them a home.  So, around to all the clinics I traveled.  I did clear out four or five bins, but still came back with several full ones I could not clear out.  Monday, I will try again.


Saturday

Today is Saturday and the last of my clean clothes.  We had the regular wounded warrior trip today, so the clothes must wait.  This group will also take a trip down the Rhine.  It was a beautiful day with temps in the 80s.  I found a chair by the side and sat and watched the hills and castles go by.  I had several wounded come up and sit with me and I realized that my heart was in pain.  The patients were all smiles and taking pictures, but I kept thinking about the patient in ICU.  I caught myself twice with tears welling up and would turn away from a patient so I could compose myself.  Would the patient in ICU ever be able to breathe on his own?  Would he be able to eat by himself, dress himself or even walk on to a boat for a river cruise?  I thought about how wonderful the sun would feel to him, and as strong as I could, I wished the warmth to him.  Sounds silly, I know.

By the end of the trip, most of us looked like we were in the running to be Rudolph (red noses).  We moved all the patients to the bus for a short trip to the restaurant where LHCP paid for lunch again.  As I looked around at all the tables, I saw a gunshot patient, I saw the PTSD patients, I saw the shoulder patients.  If some of them were not wearing American logos on their shirts, you would never have thought anything was wrong with them.  Then I noticed one patient with head in hand.  I got up and went over to him to ask if he was ok.  He said he had a headache.  I asked him if he thought it was from the sun and he said yes.  I looked around and they were just putting glasses of water on the tables.  His would be last so I went back to my table and gave him my glass.  In another 3 or 4 minutes he received his glass and drank that water as well.  Within about 20 minutes, he was feeling much better.  One of the patients told me that I was connected to them by a small fiber.  He said I knew when one in almost 40 people was not feeling well.

I was almost finished with my lunch when one of our ladies got up and walked out.  Silva and I noticed about the same time that something was wrong. I told Silvia I would go with the patient.  I found her outside with tears in her eyes.  I asked her if she would like to go for a walk and she said yes.  She is having panic attacks and not sure why or what set this one off.  I held her hands and promised her these episodes do get better.  It might take a while and not be as fast as she might think she should heal, but they would.  She explained some personal things and we slowly made our way back to the restaurant.  She will be heading back to the states for further care.  When Silva saw us walk back in, she told me that I really had a way with the patients.  I told her that I am not sure that it is me.  I believe that they really have a way with me.  They have a way of getting inside my heart.

After lunch, the patients have about one hour to walk around and look at the German shops.  I took my group into several stores.  We found the largest cuckoo clock I have ever seen.  They asked me if I had a wall large enough for the clock.  I laughed and said no, but I also did not have a wallet large enough to pay the 25,000 euro price.

The bus was rather warm when we got back to it and it did not take long for them to all fall asleep.


Sunday

Today is Sunday.  It was another 0600 day as one of the chaplains asked me to his church services.  He also asked some of the wounded warriors, and we took two of them with us.  Afternoon plans were cancelled, so it gave me the perfect opportunity to get clothes washed.  Tonight was rather calm as I sat outside the building and talked to wounded arriving throughout the three hours I sat there.  Then we all went inside and watched the football games.

Dianne and Frank Lane have been long time supporters of LHCP.  They have also helped support this trip over the years.  I want to thank them for their continued support and dedicate the last few days to them.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I worked 10 hours, 15 hours, and 18 hours.

A Special Thanks

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

It has been a fast paced crazy couple of days.  I spent most of Tuesday trying to in-process.  Each year the requirements to be a volunteer change.  The Red Cross has taken over the volunteer program again at the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet (CCC).  All volunteers must have a military id card, must be cleared through the Occupational Health, Security Office, take a HIPPA test, and go through Red Cross training.  This process can take over three weeks.

Tuesday I worked with very  few patients coming through the CCC.  Most of Tuesday and Wednesday I worked in the store rooms.  I met the Navy retired volunteer that receives our shipments here.  When we were introduced he gave me a big hug and said to tell all of you a very big thank you!  As in years past, there are many items that can not be used here.  I took some of these items through the hospital asking staff and those waiting for appointments if they wanted any of them.  Within about an hour, all the items on my little cart were gone.  Tomorrow I plan to do the same thing.  There are bins upon bins of items that are on the Do Not Send list that continues to be sent to LRMC.  Storage space is prime real-estate here. We need to clear these items out so volunteers can store things that are needed on a daily basis.

Wednesday was spent working with a few more patients.  I spent part of the day with a photographer in tow.  The public affairs officer received an email from the Saturday Evening Post which is interested in doing a story about LHCP and they need pictures. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Guard and local VFW post provide pizza and sandwiches for the wounded and ill troops after the CCC closes.   I leave the CCC and head over to the other building to help set up and spend some time talking with wounded warriors.

The Chaplain’s office has tours for the wounded warriors on Thursday and Saturdays; so Thursday was spent directing wounded warriors from one location to another and making sure we did not lose anyone. These tours are one program that I believe is extremely important for the wounded and ill.  This 5- or 6- hour trip gets patients away from the hospital environment and gives them a chance to feel healthy and normal.  They may walk with a limp, be on crutches, or have braces; but during the tour they are more normal than many of them have felt in months of deployment or days at LRMC.  The mornings that we leave for these trips, the wounded and ill sit around without speaking to each other.  By the time we pull back up to the hospital, they have formed some great relationships with others going through the same thing they are.  These trips allow the door to be opened for communication with others that have been through the same experience and feelings.

I have met some Georgian military.  Many of us do not realize that there are many countries supporting our U.S. military in Afghanistan.  One of those is the Georgian Armed Forces.  They are a staunch ally of the United States with approximately 2,000 serving in Afghanistan – that is a huge contribution of military troops from a very small country.  They work directly with our marines in some of the worst areas of Afghanistan. One member of the Georgian military is stationed at LRMC as the liaison for their wounded that arrive here.  Two Georgian doctors escorted Georgian wounded to LRMC.  One is the brother of a Georgian ICU wounded warrior.  It does not matter the country our wounded warriors are from, if you are called to be by the bedside of a loved one it is never good.  None of the patients, nor the brother, speaks English and I can not imagine the stress that must add to a already stressful situation.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I worked a combined total of 34 hours, thanks to the support of the Dawejko family.   They tracked me down early this week to bring me bottled water and goodies.

Donations Feed the Wounded Warriors

Saturday

Today is my first day with the wounded and ill warriors.  Each Saturday, the Chaplain’s Closet takes the warriors on a day retreat.  It is more like of a sight seeing tour; however, as one wounded warrior told me, “I feel like I went on vacation for a whole week.”

After the CBS Evening News story, LHCP received many donations.  Some of the donors requested that the money come straight to me for my use. . Sharon and I wrote letters or spoke with many of the donors and they agreed to turn over the money to LHCP use.  Some said that they wanted the money to come to me for my personal use.   I am overwhelmed with donors’ kindness towards me and appreciate their gesture very much.  Although I understand the intentions for their request and it is very admirable and most appreciated by me, I cannot accept these funds for my personal use.  I wrote the letters to explain why this is the case and to offer an alternative way for me to use their gift.

When I began down this road over eight years ago, to provide needed items for our military men and women, I also made a promise and commitment to do so without compensation for myself, or for anyone connected to this non-profit.  I felt strongly then and now that any monetary donations should and would be used for the benefit of our troops.  I also felt that if I allowed myself, or others, to financially profit in any way from this operation, that it would not be honoring our military men and women in the manner they deserve.  These individuals sacrifice so much on a daily basis and what LHCP does is just a small gesture of love and thanks to them.

With that said, I proposed the donors that I would use their kind donations to purchase lunch for wounded warriors during my annual trip to LRMC in Germany.  By using their donation in this manner, it will not only make me extremely happy, but it will also allow us to spread some joy to the wounded at LRMC.  This is something near and dear to my heart and their donations will be greatly appreciated for this purpose.

I asked the donors that if this was not what they felt their donation to me was for, to please let me know and I will return their checks to them without prejudice or malice. I received permission to use the donations for this purpose.

Today our trip with the wounded was down the Rhine River to view the many, many castles.  So, this morning, part of these donations was used to buy a small breakfast meal such as coffee and a danish or tea and a fruit cake.  They all loved it.  I had to smile as I looked around, because some of them looked as if they were eating a meal worth a thousand dollars instead of just a couple hundred for all of them.

We then got everyone to the boat and down the Rhine.  I don’t think I have ever heard so many clicks from cameras and iPhone before.  When the Rhine River tour was finished, we took all of them to a typical wine cellar German restaurant. They each had a small bowl of soup, then salad, then their meal, and dessert. We found out that one of the wounded had a birthday and so we asked for her to be brought a birthday dessert.  Everyone sang Happy Birthday. They were told that LHCP purchased their meals and they thanked all of our sponsors for the support.

During the bus ride back to LRMC, I could not help but keep looking at their faces.  Some were sleeping;others were just as quite as a church mouse.  When they got on the bus six hours ago, many showed signs of stress.  Now they were calm and so peaceful – what a beautiful thing to watch happen during the last few hours.

Each year our board asks for donations to help with this trip.  This year was no different and we received several “trip sponsors.” Today I worked ten hours with the sponsorship of Larry and Rachel Hause.  Larry and Rachel have been long time LHCP donors, supporters, members, and friends. Thank you both.  Your impact on our wounded is far beyond words.

Karen Grimord
LHCP Founder and President

Back To Landstuhl

Wednesday

I find myself back on a plane heading to Landstuhl, Germany to spend the next month working side by side with staff at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC). It seems it has been forever since I have been on this long flight.  Last year I was not able to fly due to some major health problems. The flight was very uneventful except for the man sitting next to me that I don’t believe had flown before, or if he had, absolutely did not like flying.  Unfortunately for him, he was flying from our west coast to Budapest for his job.  I don’t remember the first time I flew, it must have been uneventful for me, but I am sure this man will not forget this flight.  If he had been a small child, I would have asked him if he had ants in his pants.  But I had to smile as he explored every aspect of the seat and the pouches around him for hidden secrets or maybe pots of gold.

We flew all night and, believe it or not, landed 20 minutes early.  Silvia and a new chaplain from LRMC picked me up at the airport and it is always wonderful to get through passport control, customs, and the sliding doors to see a smiling familiar face.

We drove some exhilarating autobahn speeds to pick up my rental car, only to arrive and find out they did not have my reservation.  Since this is a holiday weekend, I walked away with the only car available.  Not sure you can call it a car; I truly believe that it would fit inside my suburban, with room for several boxes.  The rental agent asked if I had ever driven a Smart Car before, I can remember thinking “oh no,” this is going to be interesting.  “No problem,” I told the rental agent.  I thought, “how difficult can this be.”  I have visited and lived in 22 different countries, visited or was a resident of 42 different states.  “I got this.”

We head out to the parking lot and I have never gone tracking for a car the way we did this one, but after about 30 minutes walking through the parking lots beeping the lock on the key ring, we found the car – on the opposite side of the building from where the rental agent told us.  OK, tags match, key unlocks door, we are set and all is right with the world again.  Well almost, the fact that the car ignition is down between the seats different, but ok.  I have one large suitcase, one small suitcase, and one computer bag.  Unless by some small chance, the computer bag had manifested itself into a super being and had learned to drive, none of the bags were going to fit into this car themselves, let alone with me and Silvia.  The chaplain said he would drop the bags off at the hotel.

Silvia and I get in and put the key in the ignition, but nothing happened.  I can remember thinking the computer bag could have done as much.  We both pushed buttons, turned the key, and nothing.  Oh, wait she said something about manual.  Look down, nope no clutch.  Finally, I figured out the car was not in the N position.  Cool, now everything is right with the world… well not yet.  Foot on gas, but zero movement…move shift lever…no, still no movement.  Now remember, I have been awake for over 24 hours and this is just down right funny to me.  I started laughing and Silvia joined in.  I am sure if anyone had been watching, they would have thought we were high school girls giggling about a deep dark secret.  Move shift lever a couple more times.  “Yes, we are moving.”  Then this clutch-less car sounds and feels like it needs to be shifted.  How the heck do I do that with no clutch?  Extremely quick prayer said and I moved the shift lever, then a number 2 flashes on the dash.  Hah, I got this now.

First stop light and the car quietly dies.  Not like a regular clutch car that is in the wrong gear but quietly turns off.  OH NO!  Light is green, now what?  Foot on gas and the car started without any more help than the gas pedal.  So what was different this time than trying to get it to move in the parking lot…who cares, we are moving and Silvia and I take great pleasure in that fact.

Stop and go traffic all the way to the hotel and each time the car idles, it would also stop.  Hmmm, maybe it does that to save gas; cool, I guess but it is a little nerve-wracking wondering if it is going to start again.

We get checked in at the hotel and go to the LRMC chaplain’s closet.  There is a ton of paper work do to before I can start work and I want to start as soon as possible.  We do the walk around and I notice items right away that are not on the shelves.  Next out to the store rooms; note to self:  get LHCP yahoo group members started on SMALL PJ bottoms immediately.

There is a Combat Stress Dinner tonight with sub sandwiches.  However, everyone is out busy doing something.  I volunteer to take Silvia back to Ramstein to pick up the sandwiches and water.  Really Karen!!  Have you not learned anything today?  You have a car with no body.  There is no way we can pick up 6 cases of water, 4 very large trays of subs, and bags of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives, and peppers.  However with some careful squeezing this here and that there we did get 2 cases of water and all the subs and toppings in the car.  Key in ignition, car in N, start car, put car in R, and then like a magic show, voila we have movement!!

Back to LRMC, drop off food and water and the bed is calling me.  It is still early and I am fighting it, but I now have a headache and my eyes are burning.  Back to the hotel, I spend an hour unpacking and setting up the room for the month.  It is only 6:00pm, but I need sleep.

I tossed and turned awhile, then I was ready to get up for the day.  Check time on clock, OH!! it is 1:30am.  Check emails, play a game, talked with husband on Face Time and back to sleep at 4:30am.  Up at 7:30am to grab breakfast, and a shower.  I also learned that the hour I spent yesterday unpacking might have been too soon.  There was confusion with the room and I found out this morning I do not have a reservation here for the entire month.  I need to find a new hotel by the middle of the week.  No problem…right…22 countries and 42 states…

Karen Grimord
LHCP President

Little Non Profit

LRMC Trip Blog

Karen Grimord, President

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Blog #14

One more day of work and then I fly.  It has been a long and difficult trip from the beginning.  I so wish to stay and continue my support of the wounded troops here at LRMC, but we must continue our support stateside so those that arrive here will be comfortable and warm.

The update on Holly stands as she has a tear in a lower disk and will require surgery.  She has been diagnosed with Lyme disease.  There is no cure and she will be on medication to control the side effects.  She will be traveling to GA for her back surgery.

I have seen our blankets, quilts, and pillows come off the bus in the morning covering patients that arrive from the Middle East.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that, as such a small group, we are having such a wonderful impact in support of our wounded warriors.

I have several new requests and I will post them as soon as I get back to the states.

Please bear with me, as I will be starting my own physical therapy for my broken ankle.  I still have some bruising and swelling and they are hoping that once I get into physical therapy, the swelling will release some of the pressure I am having on the nerves.

Thank you to all those that supported this trip, monetarily, and with your thoughts and prayers!

IED Blast Patient

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tonight I met a young man who asked me if I knew Jim.  I told him I did, that he was the VP of LHCP.  He told me that he was deployed in Afghanistan and was staying in the same hotel that Jim was while he was here in Germany.  His wife had come up from Italy to visit him while he was receiving care here at LRMC.  He told me that Jim had given him and his wife 100 Euro and he did not know how to tell him, ‘no he did not want it,’ but he thought it was very nice of him to give it to his family.  So Jim gets an “Atta Boy” for his donation that made a family’s trip to LRMC from Italy a little bit easier.

It is still very cold, windy, rainy, and just plan ugly weather here.  We have been busy with new patients, combat stress classes, and then the weekend patient trip to Trier again.   I don’t know how many trips I have made to Trier, but I am sure my feet have hit most of the cobblestones taking patients from one place to another.

I thought I would let someone else speak for me this blog.  Holly is a patient who came in last week.  I met her Tuesday at a Combat Stress class.  She was to head out right away, but due to a change in her medical condition, she got held here for a few more days before going back to the states.

I was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center because of seizures and lower back issues.  I was in an IDF blast last October while serving a tour in Iraq, and while I had no external injuries, I had internal injuries that I tried to hide for fear of being taken away from my team.  I held on for over 5 months, and was 11 months into my tour before being sent here to Germany.  I was scared and ashamed, I felt as though I had let my team down because I could not “tough it out.”  When I got here, they tested me for Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus.  I screened negative for both, but I have a tear in a disc in my lower spine that will need surgery, and I will need physical therapy, quite possibly for the rest of my life.  I may also have developed a seizure disorder, but I am waiting on test results to confirm the diagnosis.  While I was here, I had a great support system, to include the cadre that worked the CQ desk to the volunteers that work here; specifically, Karen Grimord.  She volunteers at the Chaplain’s Closet, and they offer everything from undergarments to jackets to toiletries that wounded warriors might need.  When I got here, I had no shampoo, soap, jacket, or civilian clothes; just basically what I had on my back was what I carried with me.

We receive vouchers for military and civilian clothing so you have what we need. What I have found to be helpful in my recovery here is the support that I received from the Chaplains who work the Combat Stress classes, and Karen.  They offer hope when you feel hopeless, and with the emotional support and the things they supply, they make you feel like it will get better.  Anything that you may need, they do everything within their power to get for you.

I also was able to take a trip with the Chaplain’s group to Trier, Germany.  It was a great trip, and I got to see one of the first Roman Catholic Cathedrals, named Dom St Peter, it was built by Constantine.  It was unbelievable, and taking a trip out in civilian clothes made me feel like a human again.  I am so thankful for the support that I have received here, it’s hard to get wounded in battle, but these people have made a difference in my life forever.

I thank each of the LHCP members and donors for making it possible to support our wounded troops such as Holly.

Thank you Bernie, Diane and Frank Lane, Larry Walley, Stephanie, Callie Waddell, and Maria Waddell for supporting my trip this year.  You also helped purchase Holly lunch the other day as we sat and talked about her medical condition, the son she left at home, and what she has to look forward to.

“Puppet” Show

Karen Grimord, President

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today was oh so very slow in the WWMC and that is oh so very good in terms of wounded arriving, but oh so bad for making the day extremely long.

I did have some patients come in just to talk or give me feedback from their doctor’s appointments.  Yesterday, we had two patients arrive at once.  I was working on a project as another volunteer explained the WWMC to the patients.  She asked them what they needed.  The one patient knew he needed sweats and a jacket, but the other said he did not know.  She told him they had toiletries, snacks, and clothing and he could look around.  He said he just didn’t know what he needed.  I turned around and left my task, as I have heard that plea before.  I went to his side and slowed things down a little bit for him by going over each item, one at a time.

Sometimes we are in such a hurry to help, we forget to slow it down just a little.  Many patients with Post Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brain Injury cannot process more than one thing at a time. They cannot take a list of 5 or 6 items and decide if they need each of those items.  It must be broken down for them.  They cannot process putting a bag together,  talking about their tour, their family, or even the weather outside at the same time.  Many put on a really good “puppet” show, as one patient called it yesterday, but they are very lost.

Once we got the bag together, he felt a little more comfortable and told me that he had been in the dining facility and had a little bit of a panic attack.  This is completely normal and is actually part of lessons they are given to get back into a crowd and be able to work through it.  We talked for about 20 minutes when his wife called.  He shared with her what happened, but she had her own crisis happening at home and it was very unfortunate that she could not listen to what he was going through, since he was in no position to deal with what was happening at home; so he hung up on her.  As he sat with his head hung down, I asked if he wanted a hug.  He said no, which did not surprise me since he had already had a panic attack, so I held out my hand, allowing him to take it if he wanted to and we sat there holding hands quietly for a few minutes.

WWMC 2010

We have combat stress classes on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  It is a one-hour informal class with patients that wish to attend.  It is not mandatory and many only come because on Tuesdays we have Popeye’s Chicken, on Wednesday we have pizza and Thursday we have Subway sandwiches.  It is an open forum to talk about some of the issues they might be struggling with.

Guilt seems to be number one on the list.  Guilt for leaving their unit, for surviving an attack, for being away from their family, for what they did – or maybe they feel they failed to help a battle buddy.  The second seems to be anxiety.  This can be anxiety for their own health, their career, their family at home, or their unit “family” downrange.  Then follows hyper-vigilance; I call this always having the ears on.  Even sleeping, you can hear conversations and respond, you become overly security conscious.

Other issues are obsessive-compulsive behaviors, isolationism, difficulty sleeping, flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive mental images and memories, anger at themselves or God for letting this happen, or for not stopping it, depression, avoiding emotional intimacy, reluctance to get close to people, short term memory loss, confusion, lack of concentration, continual fear for those left behind or for what is ahead in their health care, denial of any health problems or personal problems,

We then give them some good tools to use.  Some work better for one patient than they do for another.  Each patient can discuss what tools they think would work best for them.  We also talk about what tools are ineffective tools.  I have been known to use some of the ineffective tools and learned they just cover up and extend the recovery from any combat stress.

The class usually starts very slow as no one is willing to share, but by the end we usually have everyone participating.  It is the beginning of what might be a long trip back to a new normal.

Stained With Sweat and Blood

Monday, March 29, 2010

It has been a while since I have made an entry from this trip.  Jim has kept you up to date on his trip and I have been busy with working at LRMC also.

WWMC 2010We have had many volunteers spring cleaning and sorting through items not needed here at LRMC.  Last week, I sat with a patient before he went in for a procedure.  He was supposed to be out before 10:30, but it went much longer than expected, so I had to leave before he came out.  I felt horrible to find out later he went for lunch and passed out as he was standing in line for his Burger King Whopper.

Jim is right when he told his story about the young Marine who wanted to stand on his injured half casted foot.  I imagine they do feel like they have their “mom” here.  There have been many here that stand on a splinted foot or rest their bodies/arm pits on their crutches and get a lesson on proper care of their leg or use of crutches to prevent crutch palsy or nerve damage.  Mom is not here, so someone has to make sure they wear their jackets when going outside for a smoke, tie their shoes so they don’t trip and hurt themselves again – or worse, cause another injury; even if we know how tired they become walking on one leg and using the crutches.

I helped one of our Polish coalition forces last week.  His translator was with him, but I feel it is better to talk directly to the patient.  So I have found over the years, it is very easy to ask if a patient needs a razor by “shaving” my own face, or “brushing my teeth” with hand motions and the coalition forces always seem to know what I mean.  I am sure it must be quite the sight to outsiders to see a woman act like she is putting deodorant on or clean her ears with Q-tips, but the patient is number one and unless they ask the translator, the patient is who we should look in the face with a smile and treat with respect.

We had 4 battle-injured Marines come in at one time.  I helped put their duffel bags together.  As I asked them if they needed shirts or sweat pants, one told me he did not need a shirt, so we moved on.  Before they left, I learned that he only had the shirt on his back, which was stained with sweat and blood.  After giving him a smile and a pat on the back, I gave him the “what for” on the donated items that were sent for troops.  I told him he needed to take what he needed and that meant that he was not to walk around in dirty clothing.  So we then began adding to his bag.  One of the Marines needed break-a-way pants due to a drainage tube.  I was happy to find a pair that LHCP had sent.  I explained and showed him the easiest way to put them on.  It should not surprise me, but he wanted them on then and there.  So we got that task accomplished with him first unfastening the right side, sitting and putting his good leg in the still fastened side.  Then he stood, and I brought the back around as he held the front and we again fastened the right side around the tubing.  He was so very happy to have pants on instead of shorts.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we have a Combat Stress Class for those wishing to attend.  So after I get done at the WWMC, I go and help set up for this.  We have Popeye Chicken one night, pizza another night, and Subway sandwiches the last night.  This class gives those patients and escorts time to talk about any concerns they may have with their deployment.  Next week, I will take some more time and go over Combat Stress in this blog.

WWMC 2010

Thanks to Callie Waddell for helping to sponsor this trip.  She has been an LHCP member for two years, and is one of our biggest Stitches of Love contributors.  Thank you for all your support, Callie!

Everything is 1 Euro

Jim Spliedt, Vice President

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blog #10

I was privileged to have been asked to go on the Chaplain’s Office Saturday excursion with the wounded from the LRMC for a tour of Mainz, Germany.  When we arrived in Mainz, we made our way to Cathedral Square, where about half the group went to the Gutenberg Museum and the other half to the Cathedral for tours.  We had a chance to spend about 40 minutes in the museum before going to our assembly point for lunch.  I walked with one of the Chaplains in the back, making sure everyone was accounted for.  At lunch, I sat and talked with service members from Texas, California, Wisconsin, and Washington.  What was funny was the look on their faces when I brought up a few personal details on two of them, until they recognized me as the “guy” from the Clothing Closet.

After lunch, I walked with a small group around downtown Mainz.  There was a little rain during the afternoon and I was glad I bought an extra umbrella and raincoat to hand out.  One of the favorite shops the group went in was the “Everything is 1 Euro,” or the European equivalent of the “Everything is a Dollar” store in the United States.  Everyone walked up and down the aisles, joking and seeing what 1 Euro would buy.  One of the nice ladies with us wanted to visit a shoe store, so the gentlemen politely waited near the store door and we talked about our families and what souvenirs we were going to buy for our children.  We eventually stopped at a small café and ordered mega-calorie desserts and hot chocolates.  Another small group joined us, and as I was sitting there with my slice of cake, I enjoyed watching our service men and women just making small talk with these big smiles on their faces.  They all told me how much they appreciated getting away from the hospital even for a little while to just be tourists.  To get the chance to sit outside a café, even with the cool rainy weather, and watch the world go by was very special to them and I was grateful to have had the chance to share the experience.

This is my last blog, since tomorrow I start packing for my flight back home to Idaho.  I didn’t know what to expect before I came to work at Landstuhl, but it has turned out to be a unique week-long personal journey for me.  I met more outstanding individuals, both as patients and support staff, then I can count; and made a few new friends.  And to all our Wounded Warriors – Semper Fidelis.