America Supports You: Gifts Boost Wounded Troops’ Morale
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 21, 2007 When soldiers are wounded in combat, they are evacuated from the battlefield to medical centers with literally only the clothes on their backs -- and often those are cut during emergency treatment.
When injured servicemembers get to a field hospital or are evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, they have no clothing or personal items. They have absolutely nothing.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project reaches out to these wounded warriors by providing comfort and relief items to the medical center in Germany and to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Fleece blankets and break-away warm-up pants are prized items used to keep patients warm while lying on litters during the often cold evacuation flights out of the war zone.
Organization founder Karen Grimord and her staff have shipped more than 14,000 pounds of sweat suits, house slippers and personal hygiene items, as well as other requested items, overseas since the group’s inception in December 2004.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project is a member of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which spotlights troop-support efforts and helps to connect home-front groups with servicemembers and their families at home and abroad. The group, based in Stafford, Va., has been a member since December 2006.
The organization works closely with Landstuhl’s Pastoral Services Department to meet patients’ individual needs. Many donations are based on requests from staff at the medical centers.
“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your excellent efforts,” said a medical captain stationed in an overseas facility. “The gifts were the perfect tonic for the men and women in uniform who have suffered serious physical and mental injuries. The best medicine in the world is kindness like yours.”
The organization’s Web site, www.landstuhlhospitalcareproject.org, has seemingly endless postings that resonate the same message. Medical personnel are grateful to have the supplies to pass out to those who have given so much for their nation.
“Thank you so much – everything we do, it is done better because of your group,” another staff member wrote. “It truly makes a difference.”
One doctor shared with Grimord that even the packages of gum sent over had a positive effect on members of a unit as they stood by awaiting word on one of their injured team members.
“I passed out a bunch (of gum) to them to calm their nerves and told them that it was a gift from the folks back home that appreciated all their sacrifice and hard work,” he said.
Having served overseas as a government contractor during the Bosnia conflict, Grimord has first-hand experience in what servicemembers are going through.
“I know the hardships, the sacrifices, the living conditions, the operating constraints, language barriers, countless sleepless nights, friendships made and the grief of loss,” she said. “But that’s not the entire answer of why I do this.”
Grimord, who is a self-described Air Force “brat” and has six family members currently serving in the military, said her inspiration comes from more than her deep respect and gratitude for those in uniform.
“I feel it’s what I have to do, what I need to do and what is a privilege for me to do,” she said. “I am inspired by our military’s sense of duty, their loyalty to the nation and to each other.”
The organization dedicates each monthly shipment to a servicemember who has made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. On the 8-by-11-inch address label a brief biography of a fallen troop is printed. Often these are posted in the medical facilities to honor both the troop and his or her family.
“It’s a reminder that what we do is not in vain,” one nurse reported. “It means a lot to the guys that are back here recovering.”