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America Supports You: Group Raise $4,400 for Hospitals Treating Wounded Troops

By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service

WOODBRIDGE, Va., April 9, 2006 – The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project added $4,400 to its coffers April 7 to buy items needed by wounded, injured and sick servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Karen Grimord, the project's coordinator.

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Karen Grimord, founder and coordinator of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, poses with Ed "Hook" Hidgins - the "Hook" in Hook & C's Karaoke, during a benefit at American Legion Post 364 to raise money to purchase items for wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The money was raised during the "Hook & C's Karaoke" 2nd annual benefit, held here this year at American Legion Post 364. American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 and American Legion Post 176, both in nearby Springfield, Va., donated $2,000 and $1,000, respectively. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 of Occoquan, Va., also presented a $300 check to the project.

"Last year, I was asked by Karen Grimord and Karen Monk (former president of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 364) to do a karaoke to help raise money for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project," said Ed "Hook" Hudgins, an electric tower crane operator and member of the Sons of the American Legion. "I suggested having a cookout and karaoke and we had a good turnout at American Legion Post 162 in Lorton (Va.). We raised more than $1,000."

In keeping with Hook's cookout idea, this year's benefit featured t-bone steaks grilled outdoors and assorted seafood dinners. There were also raffles and drawings for door prizes to raise money. The rest of the money came from personal checks from benefit attendees.

The "C" in Hook & C's Karaoke is Claude Burns, a retiree from the Washington Post security division.

This marked the fourth benefit held by the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project since Grimord and her husband Brian founded it in November 2004. "We try to provide mostly clothing items, but we've also extended to hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan that need supplies, including bed sheets," Grimord said. "The project started supporting three hospitals In Iraq in 2005 and one in Afghanistan this year."

Pointing out that the project is an item-specific organization, Grimord said, "We don't just send whatever we can get our hands on. We send the items that they specifically want."

For example, the hospital in Afghanistan asked for bed sheets and pillows to use on litters. When patients arrive at hospitals, their clothes are ruined, stained or cut off in the treatment process. The project helps out by taking monthly orders from Landstuhl's Pastoral Services Department.

The April order includes sweatpants and -shirts, long-sleeve t-shirts, men's pajamas, ankle socks and slippers, pillows, quilts, blankets and travel-size mouthwash and toothpaste, among other items.

In addition to holding fund-raising benefits, the project pays for items with donations from American Legions, Veterans of Foreign Wars, churches and other organizations.

Grimord began seeking donations for hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan after learning of the need from people who escort seriously wounded servicemembers from the theater to Landstuhl.

She said she's always amazed when seriously wounded patients arrive at Landstuhl don't want to take any of the donated items. "Those whom we almost have to force to take something feel that their biggest responsibility is to get back to the field," she said. "They want to get back to their guys. They have a responsibility, a job that needs to be done, so they want to get back to the field. So they don't want to take any items.

"Then you have patients who know they're going to come back to the states because they injury are so badly," Grimord said." They don't want to take anything because they want to leave it for the next patient coming in behind them. They don't feel that they deserve to take the sweat pants, underwear, and t-shirt or winter jacket."

Grimord said she was puzzled when a wounded helicopter pilot asked her if all the items were donated, and when told, yes, he said, "These guys deserve it."

"I told him he didn't include himself, and he said, 'No,'" Grimord noted. "He said he was a 'fly boy' and that the guys and gals on the ground deserve it all. I told him that we'd lost 14 'fly boys' in two weeks and that he had the back of the ground pounders and asked him who has his back. I asked him, 'So what makes you less deserving?'

"They always think someone else is more deserving," she noted.

Grimord returned to Landstuhl Jan. 17 to spend another 45 days volunteering. While there, she passed out 235 pink, red and white Valentine apes with little Xs, Os and messages of "I Love You," or, "I'm Ape for You," on them.

She also mailed 20 pillows to a hospital in Iraq en route to the airport. To her surprise, as she was waiting to pay the postage, the postmaster took out a debit card out of his wallet and paid the $21 shipping cost himself. "He thanked us for everything we do," Grimord said.

One day, while waiting for a busload of patients that were flown from Iraq to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the doctors, nurses, chaplains and technicians saw the bags full of little apes. When they started commenting about the apes, Grimord started passing them out.

"They stuck them in their breast pockets so the little arms were hanging out," Grimord chuckled. "When the patients got off the buses, they were greeted by all these doctors, nurses, chaplains and technicians with little apes hanging out of their pockets.....Of course, we gave apes to the patients, too."

Grimord said that during her fall visit to Landstuhl, a wounded Marine told her about his battalion needing sweats because of the cold. She got information about their sizes and arranged to send sweats for all 300 Marines, by size.

When she returned to Landstuhl in January, the Marine sent her an e-mail message asking for her mailing address because he had something to send her.

"When I opened the box, there was an American flag with a note saying that it they had flown it over their camp headquarters in Iraq in my honor on Jan. 5 for the support I'd given them," Grimord said. "You don't expect that kind of thing. You don't expect anything because they're the ones doing all the work.

"Every time I look at that flag," Grimord said, with tears welling up in her eyes, "it brings tears to your eyes. That's for all the guys we've lost, all the guys that have sacrificed themselves and their families. That just tells you how much this support means to them."

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Related Sites:
America Supports You
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project

Click photo for screen-resolution imageEd "Hook" Hudgins, right, an electric crane operator, and Claude "C" Burns, a retired Washington Post employee, volunteered their "Hook & C's Karaoke" to raise money to help wounded servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageClaire Veneziano performs a karaoke song during the Hook & C's Karaoke 2nd annual benefit for wounded, injured and ill servicemembers at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The event was sponsored by American Legion Post 365 and the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAmong donors for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were Loretta Smith, left, who presented a check for $2,000 from American Legion Auxiliary Unit 176 in Springfield, Va.; her husband, Leon Smith, who presented a $1,000 check from American Legion Post 176; Karen Grimord, the care project's coordinator; and B. J. Richardson, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7916 of Occoquan, Va., who presented a $300 check to the project. Photo by Rudi Williams  
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