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JCOC Visitors Bring Gifts and More to Wounded Troops

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

LANDSTUHL, Germany, Oct. 19, 2005 – A group of civilians on a worldwide tour to see the military works took time out today to thank young troops who have been injured in Iraq.

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Kevin Bernzott (left) and Kevin Roberts, of the Department of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, visit with an injured soldier and Marine at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, on Oct. 19. The two, along with other JCOC members, brought phone cards totaling more than 25,000 minutes and dozens of DVDs and CDs to wounded servicemembers. JCOC is a weeklong, multiservice orientation for civilian public opinion leaders. Participants start their orientation with briefings from senior Pentagon leaders and then travel to various U.S. military locations around the world. Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, USAF

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

Participants in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center here and donated thousands of phone cards and dozens of DVDs and CDs to patients who had recently returned from Iraq. The phone cards totaled more than 25,000 minutes.

Some JCOC members visited several troops in the orthopedic medical surgical ward to hand deliver the gifts. They said they were very impressed with the young servicemembers.

"They have such good spirits," said Kevin Bernzott, whose company, Bernzott Capital Advisors, donated about 2,000 phone cards to the troops. "Both of the ones that I talked to are great young Americans. If we ever lose the ability to recruit kids like that, the game's over; we lost."

Bernzott visited with Marine Sgt. Ray Mortimer and Army Sgt. Emmanuel Espinoza. Mortimer was on his third deployment with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, in Iraq when he was wounded by mortar fire. He is being treated for shrapnel wounds to the inner thigh.

Espinoza was with Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, from Fort Campbell, Ky., when he was wounded in a roadside-bomb attack. He said he had just gone through his third surgery and planned to return to the U.S. soon.

Both Mortimer and Espinoza said they were thankful for the phone cards and for the visit.

Bill Beesting, assistant dean of Florida International University in Miami, said that he was worried the visit would be hard for him to deal with, but the upbeat attitude of the soldier he visited helped him.

"Because he was in such good spirits, I kept in good spirits too," he said.

Beesting added that the importance of this visit wasn't really the material gifts to the troops.

"I don't know if it's the gifts so much as showing that we do care about them," he said. "I think we could've given them anything and they would've been just as happy."

The phone cards, CDs and DVDs will be distributed throughout four medical surgical units in the hospital.

Some DVDs were also given to the Fisher House here. Family members and loved ones visiting wounded servicemembers stay at Fisher Houses around the world.

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Related Sites:
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Joint Civilian Orientation Conference
Fisher House

Click photo for screen-resolution imageParticipants of the Department of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference are briefed on the Fisher House at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, on Oct. 19. is a weeklong, multiservice orientation for civilian leaders. Fisher Houses provide a place for the families and loved ones of wounded and ill servicemembers to stay when they visit. Photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day, USAF  
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