You Can’t Do That!

The motorcycle rally is still in the process of being planned and we are still not sure of a date yet, maybe the month of April. However, I met two patients, one from the D.C. area and one from Michigan. Both said they would like to be there with us. The one who was probably hit with an IED and has scarring to his face can ride, but the other said IF he can not ride his own bike by then, he would like to be a passenger with someone else. Please keep him in your thoughts for a speedy recover so he can ride his own bike at the motorcycle rally.

Kathy, can you keep an eye out for the break-away pants that you found last year? If you find a deal on them let me know please. THANKS.

Two guys came into the clothing closet both in wheelchairs. I had to laugh because they were trying to help each other, but each could barely take care of themselves. The one would say you can’t do that I will help you and would hurt himself and the other one would make fun of him with some joke. Then the next time the second one would say I can help you and he would hurt himself. The first would laugh at him. Neither would let me help until finally I just said O.K. guys, enough is enough!! They had me in stitches telling jokes. What a funny pair and they did not know each other before coming to the hospital. They were both in the same room and both going to D.C. on the same MEDIVAC flight. The friendships made down range and here at the hospital I hope last the test of time.

Karen

Refused Two Medivac Flights

I don’t want you to think that our U.S. military does not have those that whine, we do. Anyone that has been around the military long enough knows that. I’ve even listened to a hand full from down range, but I think the majority follows in this kid’s boots.

He refused two medivac flights until his replacement could come into the field. He was finally ordered by two COLs to leave the AOR and get on a MEDFLIGHT. When the liaison brought him in, he did not want anything. He said he would be going back down range ASAP. Now, this late 20 to early 30’s man had an injury that is life altering. The liaison had been trying to explain to him that he would be there for a while and he would need clothing other than the uniform he had on. She told me, “I need your help!” This is where the “MOM,” not “mommy” hat comes out. I put hands on hips and say, “OK, Why are you here?”  He tells me. I just give him the “MOM” look. The one he has obviously seen before because he starts in about he is the only one that does his particular job for his unit. His buddies needed him. They depend on him 24-7. His is the one on call. So I listen intently to his babble about his injury was not so bad that he could not do his job. I waited for him to totally finish.

Then it’s my turn. I told him, “I understand your concern for your buddies. However, if you do not get this fixed, you never know when it will get to the point that you can’t do your job. It may be during a period that is quiet, but it may be during a time that your buddies need you more than they have ever needed you before and you’re not able to be there for them because you waited too long to get this fixed.”

This soldier just stared at me for a couple seconds and then asked me if I knew COL Xxxxxxxx. I said, “No, why?” He said, “That is the exact same thing he said.” I said, “GREAT, now if I think like the COL, how about helping me, help you put this bag together.” He looked at me, we stood quietly for a little bit and he said, “I would like medium boxers.”

Another point for all the MOMs out there; we won another one. Hoorah!!!

Karen

Hug So Tight

01-31-06

Short and sweet tonight as it is late, I’m tired as I’m still waking up at 0430 and not able to go back to sleep.

Today was slow, but Sharon B., I wish I could have seen the expression on your APE recipient’s face today. I was walking to the clothing closet this morning and there were 2 guys sitting waiting for appointments. There are usually some of our guys waiting in this one area, but this morning one of them was sleeping. I smiled and nodded my head at the other one and then that light bulb went off. The bright idea one of course, but more the one like I can get away with some thing here. So I put my finger up to my lips like to say shhhhhh. I took one of the APES out of the bag, looked to see who the sponsor was, and VERRRY gently placed it on this kid’s lap. The older soldier smiled as I walked away. I LOVE IT when I get away with something good. I just wish I could have seen his face when he woke up.

Kathy has ordered our sweats; they are being sponsored by the Lorton American Legion.

That is it for the night, told you short and sweet.

Karen


02-02-06

It is so cold here. It never got above 21 degrees today. I’m freeezzzzzing. All the trees are covered in ice. It is supposed to warm up slightly this weekend (2 or 3 degrees) and the temperature is to get even colder the next two weeks.

I met Xxxxxx the other day. Very nice young man. You know they are either in pain or really just need to talk when they ask if they can sit. I had been busy all day, but everything just stopped when he came in and needed time to vent. I gave him one of the apes and he asked if he could have one for his wife who was coming in the next day. As he sat there and talked, he played with those apes. He was wrapping their arms around each other as to give each other a hug and back and forth. When he started talking, he seemed to be on the verge of losing it, but those little apes and talking calmed him. We talked for about 30 minutes before I had a patient come in for help. Xxxxxx hung around until I finished with the patient and said he had to catch the bus, but he just wanted to thank me for the apes. You know that was not the reason, so Dianne, for you baby, I gave him a hug, and he squeezed so tight I was not sure he was going to let go. I just held on until he did. I walked him to the bus stop and said goodbye again. (24 and missing everyone he loves and everything he knows as being normal.)

This morning I carried in another dozen apes. Each time I passed a military member in uniform, doctors, nurses, patients, etc, I would say, “I have a gift for you,” hand them the ape and keep on walking. The response after they looked at it was, “OH Thanks, how cute.” After getting the keys to open the closet, I turned around and two officers were standing there.  I gave them each an ape and kept walking. I was about 20 steps in front of them. I heard one of them say she must be Sandy from FL, and then the other one said no mine says NY. The response was then, “we won’t ever know who that pink ape woman was,” I had to laugh out loud, but kept right on walking. I’m so glad we did the apes.

I made rounds yesterday with our quilts and blankets that came in. What a hit!!! Especially the deer, beers, wolf, and woodland colored ones.

Today we finally got 3/4 of our long sleeve t-shirts in. All the rest of the shipment – pj’s, gold bond powder, winter jackets are in. I was starting to worry. The shelves look great now that they are all filled with the right items on them. We should all be proud to know that we put them there.

The 3 winter jackets donated from Stafford, VA came in and went out today. The guys loved them.

The Gold Bond powder was only on the shelf about 5 minutes when 2 containers went. Thanks Bernie.

The men’s lounge pants from MN, WOW are they going too. They were put out first, but the guys were dealing on them. I will switch this color for that color. We can always use more of them and in the small sizes too.

I want to thank all those that were stateside to pack for this shipment. It was so nice to not have to fold today, but straight out of the box to the shelf. LOVED IT!!!

Heads up, Monday will be a long day starting at 0530 and I do not expect to post Monday night. I will be with XXX before and after his surgery. This young man has a tumor. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Ginger, your Burger King lunches will start with this young man and when he is able to have his first regular meal after surgery.

Good night everyone

Karen

A Flag Stood Watch Over America’s Sons and Daughters

01-27-06

I was going to write an update tonigh,t but after reading this email I can’t.

Dear Karen,

I am LCPL XXXXXX’ mother. I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being so kind to my son! I also want you to know that you are an answer to my prayers. I’m sure that you understand how difficult it is to have XXXXXXX so far away from home, possible hurting, and not be able to be with him. It is like torture to know that he has been going through all of those tests and not being able to be there to talk to the doctors and make sure that he is being taken care of. I have prayed for God to put someone there with him who would care for him as a person. Not just another Marine who needs to get back out into the field, but someone’s son; you are that person. You’ve proven it by taking your time to send this picture. My prayer will be that God blesses you abundantly and just as you have provided for my son that there will always be someone to care for you and your children. Thank you!

Kind Regards,

XXXXXXX
Executive Assistant

01-30-06

Hi,

My name is Sgt XXXXX. I recently had surgery in Landstuhl hospital in Germany. I was a soldier that was hurt in Iraq. I would like to thank you for all the support for the troops. It is such a warm feeling, knowing that some people really care. When I received clothes and hygiene products from you at the store I was amazed. I had no clue nothing like that existed. It brings tears to my eyes knowing you want to help. I will be heading back down range here soon. I will never forget the care I received from your organization. Tell everyone I said thanks. May we never forget freedom isn’t free! GOD BLESS AMERICA AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU!!!

FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM!!!
 
SGT XXXXXXX
UNITED STATES ARMY
1071ST MAINT CO.
GRAYLING MICH.

You know that little voice inside of you that talks to you. It speaks of hope, love and sharing. Some days it seems like it is too much. Today this young kid came in and he just looked scared. When I looked at him you just knew he needed a hug. (Of course he got one.) I asked him if he was ok. He said he was just a little scared. I asked him why. He said that the last thing he remembers was being in Iraq. Now he is here and he is not sure what is next. He received a blow to the head that was so severe that he had a concussion and woke up in Germany. The fear was so evident in this young man. I got everything he needed and sent him out the door but not before making sure he knew where he was going and how to get there. (He just was not sure.) So I followed up with making sure the second man in the closet followed him to the bus stop and introduced himself.

I spent about half an hour cutting clothing for a man who needed both wrist bands cut from sweat shirts and a zip up hoody so that he could get them over two bad arms. He also needed break-away pants for the long brace on his leg. Do you think that they know when I pack their bags or when we ship our boxes that they overflow with wishes, prayers, respect, honor and gratitude?

Tomorrow is Lawrence’s birthday. He will be 25. Say Happy Birthday to him when you get up and I will let him know if I see him tomorrow that all of you wished him a Happy Birthday. He arrived from down range today.

We have no med. sweats again and about 8 small left. I have asked Kathy to purchase about $300 worth of small and med sweat pants for here. We also need white med. t-shirts if I have not posted that already.

Every morning on the bus I hope that my actions here show these troops that our hearts shine for them and ache for them in their period of pain. I also hope that though some may be crying silently, they know they are not alone. I want to thank all of you that support this project while I’m here.

I also received a VERY special gift from the field today in the mail. It is an American flag from a Marine Detachment that we supported. It was flown in honor of our unwavering support. The letter says

This Flag has stood watch over America’s Sons and Daughters who are in harms way in the country of Iraq. It has stood watch through the joys of the Holidays and sorrow of Marines giving the ultimate sacrifice that can be asked of them. It was flying when the Iraqi people voted in the first free election in over 50 years. It has been a beacon showing us the way home and an inspiration of things to come for the People of Iraq. It has flown high and protected us from harm. I’m sure after being packed in a box and shipped halfway around the world it will be a little wrinkled and still have sand in its folds, but it is our most prized possession. It was flown for you, for the uncompromising support you have shown us. May it always protect you and those you love as it has protected us.

The papers with the Hadji script are actual voting ballets used during the election. Hopefully they have started a chain of events that keep us from ever having to return here again.

Xxxx xxxx
GySgt USMC

This flag represents the heroism and sacrifice of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. Many service men and women have paid the ultimate price by giving their lives in defense of the Iraqi people during their fight for freedom.

Whenever and wherever this flag is displayed, it will always carry with it, the memory of those who were lost while bringing freedom to those who have never known it.

Karen

Colonel Takes The Pink

This morning leaving Ramstein we followed a bus with wounded on board and then passed it. The bus pulled into the ER entrance shortly after I entered. It is heart wrenching to see the buses come in and deliver patient after patient. At the same time heart warming to see nurses’ techs, chaplains and assistants throughout the hospital be standing ready for them when they arrive. One of the COL, I love him dearly, was standing there waiting for the second bus of patients. I was carrying the Valentine apes in this morning and gave him one. He stuck it in his jacket pocket with the arms sticking out. Everyone was awwww, then the second chaplain looked at me and so I gave him one. Same reaction from everyone again. Now there must be 20-25 people standing there saying awww. A little female tech was looking at them so I walked over and gave her a different color one. Day in and day out these troops serve our wounded with such care and dignity. I could not help but give out about 18 apes this morning waiting there at the door for our wounded to arrive. I spoke with a very young man that works in L&D. He worked in ICU for one day and commented that he was not sure he could do it. The stress and pace at times can be overwhelming, so let us remember not only the troops, but the staff of nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, and all those that support in the back ground. (By the way, the COL took the pink one.)

I spoke with one of the liaisons and he has a family arriving today from the states, that means that their family member is in ICU and not good. I asked him to give an ape to the family for their son. The flight is long here and I can not imagine the pain of knowing my son, daughter, or husband is in ICU and counting the minutes until I landed to get to their side. Not knowing what is wrong. How bad is it really? What will happen when I get at the hospital and will I have support? I can tell you the first couple questions would drive me crazy no matter what I was told and could be there myself.  However, the last question I can answer.  The support these families receive is awesome.  They are cared for in every way possible.  The only need that the hospital can not fill is the desire to have their military child/spouse back to before the incident, which put their child in ICU or this hospital.

We got snow last night and more this morning, about one inch. I stood outside last night thinking how beautiful, but then realized it would make it more difficult for those on crutches and wheel chairs to get to me. I will keep a close eye out on the long side walk to assist the next couple days until it is gone.

Today we have a woman in the hospital from the field. Her brother also happened to be serving down range and is now here to be by her side after an IED explosion.  After he left the clothing closet, I was unpacking more bags thinking what a close relationship they should have after this.

I met a young man last year who told me he would have no family when he returned back to the States with both hands and part of his face burned. His family did not support the efforts of our troops or HIM.  How sad!!! I feel they are all my family. We all have been given gifts over the years and these visits to LRMC to serve our wounded military is one of my most precious.

This afternoon I made the rounds to the wards with the apes. I think the guys might have liked them more than the women. We have enough to make rounds once a week through Valentine’s Day. I put sponsor labels on them and when the patient receives one I would tell them where it was from. Some of the apes were from Ballston Spa, NY. I had two patients that were surprised and thrilled because they were also from NY. That small little connection made faces smile. What an honor to be able to make that happen.

Well, it is 7:40 and the last meal I had was breakfast, so I must go.  Oh, if anyone wants to pick up some MED t-shirts, we are out.

Karen

The Toe Lady?

Here is an email from a troop that came in yesterday or the day before.

I received the items from your store/shop the other day just prior to boarding my bus back to XXXX. Besides the items, the people who worked there were very supportive and just real friendly. For the 2 minutes I was there, I felt somewhat normal again and not as if I was in a uniform and had been in a combat environment for past 6 months. I thanked all who were there and I in turn was thanked for what I did. I didn’t leave without a hug either.

I also found that one of your staff was there on a volunteer basis. She said that she was to be there for 6 weeks and I thought how great is that that someone volunteered to help me in some way shape or form. It was really good to hear.

Know that your service is a great one to provide to our injured service members. I cc’ed my wife because I want her to know as well that there are people here besides the MD’s who go the extra mile.

You rock!

Sincerely,

JEDI 36

Sorry I have not posted in two days, but I have been busy with some behind the scene things. Dianne S., you are a true life saver and I know that this family feels blessed for having your help.

For those of you new to the project, please read the Blog on the web page from my last visit. For those of you that have been around since last fall, I was known as the “Name on my briefs lady,” this trip it is the “Toe Lady.”  The young man I told you about with the hat on his foot with the tassels is making quite the rounds. I have had several people coming in asking if I’m the toe lady. I have to laugh, because, can you imagine the look on my face the first time I was asked that? The second guy said yea this guy had this hat on his foot to keep his toes warm and said that this “very nice, rock on, cute woman” gave it to him from the clothing closet. (The nice and cute I understand the meaning of, but the “rock on” I just have to hope is also good. LOL) The problem is that XXXX does not remember names and could not remember mine so he calls me the “Toe Lady.”  So 3 patients later and I’m the Toe Lady.  I have been known for lots of different things, but this is a new one to add to the book. LOL.

Last fall it was the name on the boxers, yesterday we were a little busy and this man says, “Hey this couple in Stafford, VA by the name of GRIMORD sent these socks here.” I turned around and asked if it said Mr. and Mrs. Brian Grimord.  He said “rock on.” (Someone has to tell me what the means.)  Everyone looked at me like, how did you know that. So I told them I was Karen Grimord and what we did and why I was there. I was told to let each of you know how much this means to each of them. Dianne, you have two more pairs of ankle socks before yours are gone from the shelf.

I waited on a young man yesterday who had surgery two days ago. Very nice and very polite!  We had our small chit chat and said our good bye. Today, I found out that he worked for one of the Generals and I got coined for the support this young man was provided. It is a very nice coin from the Third Infantry Division, Outstanding Soldier, “Rock of the Marine” General. I wish I could “coin” all of you for the great work that you do to keep our shipments coming in here and down range.

Four nights ago a young man, XXX, came down from the mental health ward. (some of them get 1 hour passes). I waited on him and he was very nice and quite the joker. He told me that he has been diagnosed as being bi-polar. The next night he came back with someone new to the ward. Now remember this kid has been “SHOPPING” already once, as I’m helping his new friend he looks around and picks out some CD’s, sun glasses, and a sweater. The next night XXX comes down with the friend from the night before and another new member of the ward. Again the same thing, I help the new patient and XXX goes checking out everything, keeping everyone laughing the entire time, but picking up this little thing here that thing there. XXX asked if he could exchange his small black bag for one of the larger ones (they are only allowed one bag). I told him sure bring the small one back down the next day. Yesterday afternoon XXX came down and tried to tell me, in a very round the bush way, that he had so much wonderful stuff that he could not fit it all in the bag. I laughed and said of course you do, you are worse than any woman I’ve ever met about shopping. I told him to keep both the bags, but his shopping was shut off, no more, done, finished. Everyone started to laugh and he looked at me and smiled and said well can I still come down here and talk with you? I gave him a big hug and said of course you can, any time. So tonight, he brought back all the friends from the nights before and another new member of the ward. He started to go shopping, he had his back to me and I looked at him and his friends were, “OHHHH” XXX look at Karen.” He turned around really slow and had this smile on his face that he thought would melt me. I told him I have a son that used to try that and it just would not work. Everyone was laughing and told him he had met his match. He leaves here in a couple days and I will miss my 4-4:15 appointment with this very wonderful young man.

Tomorrow is my 25th anniversary. I will deliver some of our Valentine apes early. Patient load is light compared to last fall and we have enough to go around the hospital now and then also on Valentine’s Day. This will give the guys going home a small gift for Valentine’s Day also. One of the chaplains’ assistants told me today that the apes were very appropriate because she did consider me ape for our soldiers. My 25th may not be spent with my husband, but I guarantee you it will be spreading love to the wounded military personnel here at LRMC.

I promised a young man today that I would ask all of you to say a special prayer or take a moment and think about his friend who has all four limbs broken and is in bad shape. I will not post the name, but I’m sure the man upstairs will listen anyways.

That is it for the night, time for bed.

Karen

A Foot With Personality

01-22-06

I worked on Saturday and we had about 20 patients come through. We got a lot unpacked and put in the closet or in the storage room. I also met a nurse from down range at one of the largest hospitals in the field. She told me that we can support them by sending shorts, pillows, and pants (NO SHIRTS). She also told me that they DO NOT NEED TOILETRIES OF ANY KIND.

I sat here all day today and got all the labels on our apes for Valentine’s Day.  I have some pictures I will send Ray to put on Jonathan’s page as soon as I get them out of the camera.

This group [the Yahoo Group] got quiet when I came over here. Do I have back up in the States?

Karen


 

01-23-06

Today was a very cold day. We had several ghost flights come in, so it was busy also. I had one patient that came back in for a hat for his foot. One of the other volunteers helped him Saturday and I saw him about half an hour after he left and his cast leg and foot were uncovered, so I told him to come back and see me today and we would put a hat on that foot. Well, we chose two hats one black one for while he was in his uniform and the other had two tassels on top and was multi-colored for his civvies. We talked for almost 45 minutes about everything; he was a preschool teacher before joining the Army. Anyway, a very nice young man, has a great personality and his foot has two hats now, in uniform and out.

I also meet a young man who is from Huntsville, AL, where my folks are living. I may be posting more about him later but it is always interesting to meet someone from some where you know.

Dianne S., your socks are going out the door like crazy. I have seen your labels all day today. Ginger, please let the legion know that their sweats are on the shelf and also being used. The last of the auxiliary quilts are on the shelf now. They don’t last long when they get put out.

I’m going to take a shower, as I have changed many a combat boot today.

Karen

Toccara Green

Toccara Green—Jan 2006 Shipment Honoree

Green died in Al Asad, Iraq, when multiple improvised explosive devices detonated near her unit during convoy operations. She was assigned to the 57th Transportation Company, 548th Corps Support Battalion, Fort Drum, New York.

‘She loved her country’ and died in Iraq serving it
Army Spc. Toccara Green, a transport operator, had just been home on leave and talked of re-enlisting.

By Anica Butler
Sun Staff

 
Toccara Green lingered until after midnight that last Sunday in July, eating ribs and ice cream cake and mingling cheerfully with nearly 90 friends and relatives gathered at a backyard barbecue in her honor.

She posed for pictures with new baby cousins and older relatives she had not seen for years. She prayed with members of her church. The next Sunday, her two-week leave over, the 23-year-old Rosedale woman and Army specialist returned to Iraq for the final four months of her second tour of duty.

Yesterday, members of her family reconvened to mourn her death.

Green is the first military woman from Maryland, and the 26th service member from the state, to die in Iraq since U.S. forces invaded the country more than two years ago, according to announcements from the Pentagon.

As friends and family gathered, Green’s parents received a phone call from a fellow soldier and friend of their daughter who was there when she died. Green was killed Sunday when explosives detonated near her supply convoy in Al Asad, in western Iraq.

Green, a motor and transport operator, was driving a Humvee behind Spc. Nicole Coleman, the soldier who called the Green family home yesterday. Between them were several trucks carrying supplies, Coleman said over a crackling connection. When the convoy stopped to refuel and switch drivers, they climbed out of the Humvees.

“The next thing you know, explosives went off,” Coleman recalled in a soft and trembling voice. “I was getting ready to get back in when I saw the first one go off.”

Coleman said she dropped to the ground, then jumped back into the Humvee when she heard the second explosion. Inside, she heard there were casualties but didn’t know who.

The next time she left her vehicle, she said, she saw her friend lying in a pool of blood. She recognized her, Coleman said, by the scarf on her head. Someone was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Green, Coleman said, but she was dead before the medevac unit arrived.

“I just started screaming,” she said. “I never lost a best friend before.”

The two met during basic training in 2003, Coleman said, and referred to themselves as “Batman and Robin” or “Pinky and the Brain.”

Green had long wanted to join the Army, her family said, and spent four years in ROTC while attending Forest Park High School in Baltimore.

Her father, with whom she was close, wasn’t comfortable with his only daughter joining the military, especially because her older brother had joined the Marines, the brother, Garry Green Jr., said yesterday.

So, after she graduated from high school in 2000, Green attended Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she studied telecommunications and broadcasting.

Her desire to join the Army never waned, and in January 2003, she enlisted, her brother said.

“She loved her country,” he said. “She wanted to do something to help, not just sit around and talk about it.”

When Green was 13, her father had begun to teach her about cars, and she loved to work on them, her brother said. So it was no surprise when she told her family that her Army job would be as a motor and transport operator.

She was assigned to the Army’s 57th Transportation Company, 584th Corps Support Battalion, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

She was sent to Iraq the first time in May 2003, her brother said, and stayed for about nine months. She returned to Iraq in February.

Garry Green Jr. said his sister was eager to finish her second tour and receive a new assignment. She was talking about re-enlisting during her last visit home.

“She wasn’t exactly mad about going to Iraq,” he said. “She’s not the type to cry that ‘I gotta do this’ or ‘I gotta do that.’ She just wanted to get it done.”

He described his sister as enthusiastic and outgoing, a natural leader who could motivate others easily.

Coleman described Green as a silly, witty and excitable confidante.

At her family’s church, Victory Ministries International, Green worked with the children in the congregation and read announcements, said Lenora Howze, a family friend and associate pastor.

During her last visit home, Green went to a movie with her aunt, as she always did, and went roller skating, a favorite activity.

Her father, Garry Green Sr., watched videos yesterday of Green participating in ROTC drill competitions in high school. Her mother, Yvonne Green, said she couldn’t bear to hear her daughter’s voice and instead sought comfort in the photos taken on that overcast Sunday in July.

Her brother, too, reflected on the recent gathering.

“It was a perfect day,” he said. The Greens said they are planning a local service in addition to a military funeral in Arlington, VA.


The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Toccara during the month of January 2006 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Toccara’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

In honor of Toccara Green we shipped 155 long sleeve t-shirts to LRMC and 70 movies to out-patient billeting.

2006 LRMC Trip–January 20, 2006

01-20-06

This will be short tonight as I’m tired but wanted to let you know that the guys and gals here are so thankful for everything that they receive here. It is interesting how they believe that one group is more deserving than themselves.

I spoke with a warrant yesterday. He was impressed by the amount and variety of items that we had. He asked me if everything was donated. He told me that these guys really deserved it. I’m sure I must have had a puzzled look on my face; you see, he was a patient also. Wounded with leg injuries and sutures that he would travel back to the States with and yet he did not include himself in the, “THESE GUYS REALLY DESERVE IT,” comment. So, I repeated it to him and said you don’t include yourself in that? He said, “NO.” That he was a fly boy and that the guys and gals on the ground deserved it all. I looked down at the floor, went to his side, put my arm in his and said that if I remembered correctly, we had just lost 14 “FLYBOYS” in the past two weeks. That he was here for an injury that he received in the line of duty. That he had the back of the ground pounders. Who had his back? SO, what made him any less deserving? He just smiled at me. I smiled at him, went over to the boxers and asked if he was a boxer or briefs kind of guy, and we started to fill his bag.

Today I met a young woman that must not have been older than 25. I’m not sure, but I think she was receiving treatment for cancer as she had lost 97% of her hair. She kept telling me that she was uncomfortable with taking what she needed and that we were too nice. After about ten minutes of filling her bag and her telling us we were too kind, I told her that if she needed anything else to come back and see us, but to make sure I was not there because she was too difficult to work with. Of course I said it with a smile. She LAUGHED and said I had made her day. (Maybe people just always treated her with kid gloves?)

I talked with a kid today that came in and looked dazed, to say the least. He said that he was told to come see us for stuff he might need. I said, “You are in the right place, but you look lost.” He said that he is not used to people. I said, “People?” He said, “Well, kids and women and joking.” That he had been with a small group of just men for six months. It was strange to him even to be  just in the hospital environment. He said people keep smiling and joking with him, and he is having problems with it. I said, “Well we won’t smile and joke in here then.” We talked about what he needed and went about filling his bag. When and if he thought he was going back to the States and where that was. Then just out of the blue, he said something that was funny. I wish I could tell you what it was, but for the life of me, I can’t remember. I just looked at him and he looked at me and I was a little scared to smile, so I said, “See, you told a joke.” He laughed a little and said, “YEAH, but it was a bad one, huh?” And laughed again. I put my hand on him and told him that he could come back and tell me as many bad jokes as he wished; my family was full of them, so he would make me feel right at home.

Yesterday and today reminds me, and should remind all of us, that this war affects all these troops, young and old, differently. We need to be aware of that and keep that in our thoughts at all times. So that we can respond as they need us to help support them, not just in the clothing items that we provide, but in the emotional needs that are even more important.

This was much longer than I thought I could do and I’m really tired and need to try to get to bed early tonight. I’m waking up at 2:30 and ready to go to work. TIME ZONES, uggh!!

Karen

Post Master Pays

Karen & Hat
Karen gets hug from patient “Hat”

I have arrived in Germany and in one piece, 45 min early.

I mailed 20 pillows to the hospital in Iraq on the way to the airport. As I was waiting for the total and the post master to take my debit card, he pulled out his own wallet and paid the total shipping. He thanked us for everything that we do. If someone else could pick up the other 10 and mail them to me, we will be finished with this month’s support for the pillows to the hospital in Iraq. THANKS!

We still have the request for the towels and if you would like to purchase them yourself instead of us purchasing direct from the distro people, I have no problems with that. I would just like to know so that I could let the hospital in Iraq know when they might expect them.

I start work tomorrow, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the time difference does not kick my butt like it did last time.

Karen

Dustin Derga

Dustin A. Derga—December 2005 Shipment Honoree

Marine Cpl., 24, of Columbus, Ohio; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, Columbus, Ohio; attached to 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward); killed May 8, 2005 by enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations in Ubaydi, Iraq.


Pickerington Marine Dustin Derga killed Sunday in Iraq

Dustin Derga
Dustin Derga

A Pickerington Marine who wrote recently in a Web site posting that he was “so ready to come home” was killed Sunday in Iraq. Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, died in Ubaydi as the result of enemy fire, the Department of Defense reported Monday.

Derga, a 1999 graduate of Pickerington High School, was assigned to Marine Forces Reserves 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division. He was a member of the Columbus-based Lima Company.

Brandon Harmon, who is dating Derga’s sister, Kristin, answered the phone at the family’s home Tuesday. Harmon described Derga as a “very outgoing, positive person. Fun to be around.” He said Derga would “do anything for you.” Harmon said Derga’s family, including parents Stephanie and Robert, was handling the news as “good as it can be expected.”

Derga was due to return home next month, Harmon said. He said Derga had aspirations of becoming a firefighter and had made other plans, including possibly opening a bar with a friend and moving in with his girlfriend. “You feel like your world crumbles, you know?” Harmon said.

“He was a good kid,” said Ken Schneider, who was Derga’s teacher in the high school’s construction and engineering technology preparation program in 1998 and 1999. “He worked hard.”

In a posting May 3 on the “Reach a Marine” Web site, Derga said his unit had just returned from a week-long mission and was leaving for another, which he said would “be even longer,” right away. He described an “unusual” hailstorm that had hit the night before. “I am so ready to come home,” he wrote.

According to a biography of Derga on the Web site, he worked at ISG Columbus Processing before he was deployed. He also attended Columbus State University, where he majored in EMS and Fire Science, and had served as an EMT and firefighter in Baltimore, Ohio, for three years.


In Death, Lima Company Family Forges a Tragic Bond

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Their son was the first to die. On Mother’s Day, he led a team of Marines to a house near the Iraqi-Syrian border. Cpl. Dustin Derga, the practical joker who wanted to be a fireman, tried kicking in the door. He was met with a spray of armor-piercing bullets from insurgents tucked in a crawl space beneath the floor.

That night, in Uniontown, Ohio, the men in uniform came to Bob and Marla Derga’s door. Even in their own grief, they worried for Dustin’s comrades back in Iraq — the 160 or so men of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment — and all the other parents, wives and children at home. They had become, simply, “The Lima Family.”

“We are in this together, good and bad, to the very end,” Bob wrote days later in an e-mail sent to other Lima Company families. “We are a team and none of us is going to falter.”

Three days after 24-year-old Dustin was killed, three more Lima Company Marines perished when an explosive detonated near their armored transport vehicle. Two weeks after that, another Lima Marine was gunned down. Two months later, two others were gone.

Then last week, utter devastation.

Lima mom Anne Ritchie heard it on the radio driving to work: Fourteen Marines killed in a roadside bombing. She started screaming: “It cannot be Lima! We just had two. It cannot be Lima Company.”

But nine of the 14 were.

War brings misery home, but this war has brought this place, this company, these families far more than their fair share.

The Columbus-based unit once was known as “Lucky Lima,” having suffered no fatalities and few injuries after arriving in Iraq in March. But the infantry company quickly became a workhorse of the war, cropping up in news stories about critical missions designed to rid a remote desert region of followers of Iraq’s most-wanted terrorist.

“We are arguably the ‘salty dogs,’ traveling from hotspot to hotspot …” Lance Cpl. Christopher Lyons wrote in a May column for his hometown paper.

Really, they are just everyday guys — not career servicemen but reservists who live and work in the cities and suburbs of Ohio. Students, police officers, firefighters. Newlyweds, new fathers and fathers-to-be. Lyons, 24, sold ads for the newspaper. His baby daughter, Ella, was born a few months after he deployed, though he will never hold her. He was killed July 28.

When their Marines shipped out, the families of Lima Company barely knew each other’s names. They were the parents of this lance corporal, or the wife of that one. They snapped pictures for one another at the deployment ceremony, knowing little about the person who stood on the other side of the camera.

They stand together now, swapping stories at their once-monthly “family days,” exchanging e-mails with good news or bad from the front, wrapping their arms around each other at each funeral.

“I only met them the other day,” Ritchie said outside Schoedinger Hilltop Chapel last week after paying respects to the parents of Cpl. Andre Williams, 23, who died alongside Lyons last month. Ritchie’s son, Jason, serves in Williams’ platoon and remains in Iraq.

“I told them ‘My son’s in Lima Company.’ That’s all it takes.”

Moments later, the Dergas arrived and eased their way past Williams’ flag-covered coffin. When they came to his mother, Mary, they embraced. Then Mary looked into Bob’s eyes.

They drove two hours to Columbus to be at Williams’ service. They planned to head Monday to Ashland, Ohio, for Cpl. Lyons’ funeral.

“I couldn’t sit at home and not go there and not hug that mom and that dad and be able to look into their eyes and say, ‘I don’t know everything you’re feeling, but you’re not alone in this,'” said Marla Dergas, Dustin’s stepmother.

Sources:

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Dustin during the month of December 2005 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Dustin’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Nicholas Wilt

Nicholas Wilt—November 2005 Shipment Honoree

Marine Lance Cpl., 23, of Tampa, Fla.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; killed Sept. 3, 2004 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.


Mother, Wife Remember Marine as Quiet Hero Ready for Duty

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wilt
Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wilt

In a cigar box she stores in a living room cabinet, Rebecca Wilt keeps dozens of letters her son, Nicholas, wrote while serving in Iraq. Her favorite was written April 21, 2003, after Baghdad seemed under control and friendly Iraqis embraced the American troops.

“Looking at their faces was the most amazing experience in my life so far,” he printed carefully in black ink. “I once doubted joining the Marine Corps, and I used to think it was the worst decision I’ve ever made, but now I’d do it all over again.”

In his second tour of duty in Iraq, 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Nicholas Wilt was killed Friday when a bomb exploded near the Syrian border. “He was such a great human being,” said Rebecca Wilt as she thumbed through his letters. “It was an honor being his mother.”

Inspired after 9/11 to enlist, Wilt was an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq war. But he left much behind at home, including plans of starting a family with his new wife, Mercedes.

As he sat in his kitchen Monday, Wilt’s father-in-law wondered why men like Wilt keep returning to the war. “He was one of the first ones in Iraq, why does he have to go back?” said Richard Maestrelli. “He already faced down danger once. I don’t think it’s right he’s forced to do it a second time.”

He was ready to go back a third time if needed, said Mercedes Wilt. Doing more than others was something Wilt always did, she said. He wanted to serve his country. And after he finished his four-year hitch, he told her, he would dedicate his life to making her happy.

A graduate of Tampa Catholic High School, Wilt met Mercedes in the spring of 2001 at a friend’s party. “The world just melted away and we talked for hours that night,” Mercedes Wilt said. They weren’t dating long before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. After that, Wilt talked about joining the Marines. “The night I told him I loved him was the same night he told me he was a Marine,” she said. “I was petrified. I realized the man I was in love with was going to fight a war.”

Wilt was among the first U.S. troops to invade Iraq. He called once on a reporter’s cell phone to tell Mercedes about one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. He marveled at the mammoth pools and the gold toilet seats.

A machine gunner on a Hummer that scouted for tanks, Wilt captured much of what he saw in letters to family and friends. In April 2003, he wrote about seeing a Marine shoot an Iraqi who had been shooting at them.

“But in the process, another Iraqi was standing near the incident and was accidentally shot twice,” Wilt wrote. “While the Marines were securing the street, the innocent man that was shot came up to the Marine who shot him and told him, “Thank you for killing that man and thank you for everything you’ve done.’ Then he said, “now I go to hospital.’ Can you imagine that?”

Mercedes Wilt keeps his letters in a binder notebook. “I’d get a letter just about every day,” she said.

When Wilt finished his first tour of duty in October 2003, he and Mercedes had a wedding with all of their friends and family. They had their honeymoon in Mexico, then moved to a base in California. By the end of August, Wilt was deployed again. This time, Mercedes Wilt said, she was filled with dread. “The whole week before he left, I was a baby,” she said.

On their last night, they ate a home cooked lasagna dinner and listened to a CD of love songs. “We just talked and cried,” Mercedes Wilt said. As they hugged goodbye the next morning, Wilt told her she meant everything to him. “I’m glad we at least got an official goodbye,” she said. “I at least have that.”

In the next few days, Mercedes said she expects to get his final letter, which he wrote during the plane ride to Kuwait. He called on Thursday, asking if she was okay. She said she was feeling blue and he wanted to cheer her up.

Now, she said she doesn’t know what to feel. “I’m hurt, I’m numb, I’m just outraged,” she said. “They robbed me of my life with him, my soul mate, the man I wanted to have children with. I pray to God every night hoping I’m pregnant so I can see his face again.”

Sources:

St. Petersburg Times

Military Times – HONOR THE FALLEN


The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Nicholas during the month of November 2005 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Nicholas’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

DeForest Talbert

DeForest  L. Talbert—October 2005 Shipment Honoree

Army Sgt., 24, of Charleston, W.Va.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment, West Virginia Army National Guard, Beckley, W.Va.; killed July 27, 2004 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baladruc, Iraq.


A Life Redeemed, Then Cut Short

Soldier Killed in Iraq Had Become Role Model After Troubled Teen Years in Alexandria

Army Sgt. DeForest L. Talbert
Army Sgt. DeForest L. Talbert

DeForest L. Talbert entered the alternative education program at T.C. Williams High School the way a lot of students do—full of resentment. He was raised by a single mother in a public housing complex in north Old Town Alexandria. He spent much of his freshman year skipping class and talking back to teachers. He was bright, athletic and good-looking—and he knew it, recalled Carolyn Lewis, principal of the Secondary Training and Education Program, which supports students who aren’t doing as well as they could. “He was really in trouble in the streets,” Lewis said.

Talbert was supposed to try the program for a year—and stayed for three, thriving. By senior year, he was a star running back on the football team, known to teammates and fans as “Touchdown Talbert.” He became a mentor to children from low-income families at a nearby preschool. Then he went to West Virginia State College on a military scholarship and joined the Army National Guard, dividing his time between service and school.

On Tuesday, Talbert, 22, was killed in Baladruc, Iraq, when a bomb exploded near his vehicle during a routine patrol with other members of the Guard’s 1st Battalion, 150th Armor Regiment, based in Dunbar, West Virginia. Department of Defense officials said yesterday that the incident is under investigation.

Years after he left Alexandria, teachers, police officers and children on the streets still marveled at the transformation of “Dee,” as he was called, from a tough-talking, troubled teenager to football star, responsible father and Army sergeant.

“Here’s this kid who went through so many hurdles growing up in the inner city,” said Jill Lingle, a George Washington Middle School resource police officer who knows Talbert’s family. “Even the younger boys I know at the school would talk about him. They’d say, ‘Did you see what Dee did?’ Everyone knew he’d gone on to college. He was definitely a role model for these young kids growing up in the same way.”

Friends, former teachers and mentors have crowded the Alexandria home of his mother, Gloria Nesbitt, this week to offer condolences and support.

Talbert’s girlfriend, Frances Hamilett, 22, said she had spent much of Monday at the home she shared with him in Charleston, West Virginia, trading instant messages with him over the Internet. As always, he asked about their son, Deontae, who turned 3 last week.

“We were having regular conversation,” she said. “He didn’t want to go on patrol. He kept saying he loved us and we would see him in August. I think he felt something might happen. He kept saying, ‘Don’t get off the computer.’ It was like he knew something was going to happen.”

On Wednesday, two Army officers arrived at Hamilett’s home and told her Talbert was dead. She said she fell to her knees crying.

They were talking about marriage, she said, but no wedding date was set. They had had a hard time in recent years, both emotionally and financially. They were college freshmen when Hamilett became pregnant, and they feared that one or both of them might have to drop out of school. Hamilett wants to be a social worker; Talbert was studying communications.

“It was a struggle, but we overcame it,” Hamilett said. “While I was in class, he would watch our son, and we went back and forth like that.”

Deployed in February, Talbert kept in frequent touch with his family, complaining of Iraq’s intense heat and promising his son that he would be home to watch the next Dallas Cowboys game. Hamilett said Talbert was not particularly patriotic or political but had enrolled in the Army so they could stay in school and he could provide for Deontae.

“He wanted to make sure he had money for our son,” Hamilett said. “The reason he signed up was to have money to pay for school. It was a job. I don’t think he ever thought he was going to war.”

During the last year, T.C. Williams students sent Talbert letters and care packages, and Talbert wrote them back thanking them for their thoughts—and for making him the envy of his fellow soldiers.

“He said he was the only one who got a lot of mail because we always wrote to him,” Lewis said.

Lewis said Talbert never forgot his friends in Alexandria and reached out to them often through the computer and telephone. His messages, she said, were filled with humor and gratitude. “We are a smaller learning community rather than a mainstream school,” Lewis said. “We were his family.”

Lewis said she received an e-mail from Talbert on Tuesday and regrets deeply that she didn’t save it. “Just want you to know that I’m fine,” it said. “It’s still hot.”

Source: Washington Post


The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember DeForest during the month of October 2005 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with DeForest’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

LRMC Volunteer Mothers Sick Soldier

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

 

Karen and Nick
Karen and Nick

Having a tube stuck down one’s throat and hernia surgery will tend to do that to a person – especially a 20-year-old.

“I told her I was here for hernia surgery and that I had no one around here that I knew,” he said. “No family, no nothing.”

“He told me it would be a lot better if his dad could be here with him,” said Grimord. “But his dad couldn’t make it over for the surgery.”

That’s when she offered to step in as a surrogate parent and meet him at the emergency room entrance, follow him to the operating room and sit with him prior to and after his surgery. He took her up on the offer and the two saw one another several times prior to the big day.

“We sort of became friends along the way, just talking and shooting the breeze,” he said.

On the day of surgery Grimord was right where she said she’d be. The patient, however, wasn’t. He had overslept and was late to both the ER and the OR.

His anxiety level rose and he said he figured he’d have to brave the surgery alone. Little did he know that she was running around the hospital trying to find a way to get in touch with him. Several minutes after he made it to the OR, she showed up for him. Soon, he got his anesthesia and was feeling more confident.

“All I saw from the back of the gurney (as he was being wheeled to surgery) was a big thumbs up and I knew he was feeling all right,” she said.

She sat in his room and waited for him to come out of his haze after surgery and when he did, the first person he saw was his surrogate mother.

“He looked at me and his eyes were a little crossed from the medication,” she said. “The first thing he said was, ‘I know you!’ It made my heart swell bigger than my chest.”

To get that heart swell, she bought a plane ticket and left her family in Virginia to come to LRMC and volunteer for 45 days. She has been gathering and donating supplies to both downrange and LRMC for the past year-and-a-half. She said she knew there was something more she could do.

“I get so fed up with the news,” she said. “All you hear is negative. But you come here and talk to the servicemembers and it’s 98 percent positive. I knew when I left the states that was the truth, but being over here has reinforced that feeling for me.”

This isn’t her first stint with volunteer work, but she said it has been her most rewarding. Oct. 19 was her last day at the LRMC Chaplain’s Office. It’s a place she said she wasn’t quite ready to leave.

“This is something everyone should do,” she said. “They are giving me my freedom and I should give something back. This isn’t being nice, it’s giving back. And I’ll be coming back.”

But I Really Do Love You

10-18-05

It is late, but I wanted to check in and let everyone know that the young man  I sat with before his surgery and afterwards is doing fine. He is 20 and was JUST A LITTLE BIT WORRIED about his surgery. He was shaking so bad when I met him, that it felt like an earthquake on the bench. Anyways, he is good. He has 2 weeks recovery here and I do not know if he will go back to the States or back down range. Total recovery time is 6 to 8 weeks, so I’m hoping he goes back to the States. His unit leaves Iraq in Dec anyway, so no big loss if he is not there. He wanted Burger King today and I brought it up for lunch for him.

It will be a sad day on Thursday when I fly from here. I have met some of the most wonderful and caring people you could ever meet. This has been very rewarding and THE best volunteer work I have EVER done and I have done a lot through the years. Thanks to all of you that have supported the effort while I have been here. When I get home I will start right away on getting everything shipped to OUR guys.

Karen


10-19-05

I went by and visited a site where out-patients are billeted. It was interesting to see how they are taken care of there and the support we can provide that area.

Karen


10-24-05

I want to tell you about Nick. I met Nick Friday the week before I left. He was at the bus stop and was pale and his hand was shaking. I went and sat next to him and asked if everything was ok. Mind you, Nick looked all of 20 and I found out later he was only 20. He told me in a slight southern drawl that the doctors were going to put a tube down his throat and cut him open and put wire mesh in him. Well, I knew something was not right about the wire mesh part, but I told him everything was going to be ok. I told him that he was at a good hospital and he would be just fine and not to worry. I normally did not ask what was wrong, but I asked him what type of surgery he was having and learned he had a rather bad hernia that had to be fixed ASAP. I also knew that he was not having wire mesh put in. He told me that first they were going to send him back to the States, but it needed to be fixed now and his dad was going to try to come here but that money was an issue. He would just feel better if he had family with him. After talking to him for about ten more minutes, I told him that if he liked, I would meet him before surgery and sit with him. I would also wait for him to come out so that he would have someone there that he knew. He looked up from the ground and said, “You would do that?” I told him that I would and we made arrangements to meet at the ER entrance at 0715 Monday morning. He was not there at 0715 or 0730 or 0745. I got worried that he had jumped on an aircraft back to the States since he was talking about that on Friday to have his surgery stateside. I left ER to find a friend to help me track him down. I went back to ER just in time to get a phone call from pre-op that Nick was up stairs waiting for me. He had taken pain meds the night before and over slept. He had taken a taxi and gotten to the ER when I left to track him down.

When I got upstairs, the nurse that walked me to his room told me that he really thought a lot about me being there for him and was scared that I had left ER and would not be there. When I walked in the room, this young man had a smile of relief on his face. We talked about his family, the weather, the hospital, the war, and the surgery. I told him the best thing was to relax. I told him that when I have surgery, I sing to myself and I have had more than one doctor tell me that I have entertained them in the OR singing the Yellow Submarine or the Itsy Bitsy Polka Dot Bikini. Nick thought that was funny, but I told him to just think of a song he liked and it will relax him. About five minutes later, they came in to take Nick and gave him a large shot of something to relax him. As they took him down the hall, I got the thumbs up over every one’s head.

While he was in surgery, which was to take an hour, I went to the clothing closet and got him a bag of clothes and spent some time down there waiting on other patients. I went up to Nick’s ward about the time he was to be out, but he did not come out of surgery for another 1 ½ hours.

When he did come to the ward, he was still asleep. The nurse said that he was difficult to wake up, so I started talking to him asking him why he was being so difficult, that I had been there waiting on him just as I had said, so he had better open those eyes of his. He opened them and with VERY glassy eyes looked at me and said, “YOU ARE HERE.”  I talked to him for about a minute more, then I asked the OR nurses how it went and they said that he was very entertaining.  She said that he was singing Mr. Bo Jangles. I just had to laugh. Nick kind of rolled his head toward me and pointed his finger at me and said it was all my fault. The nurse said that he was very relaxed and surgery went well.

After we got him moved to his bed and they got all his vitals and left, I told Nick that I had put up all his clothes and got him new clothing from the clothing closet. I showed him where I had put everything in his closet and he just looked at me and said, “I LOVE YOU.” I had to laugh a little because his eyes were so glassy still. I said, “I love you too Nick, now listen, your wallet is on this shelf.” And he said, “OK, but I really do love you.” I just gave up on telling him were his stuff was and went about calling his parents and his girl friend. It took about 20 minutes to get through to them, but with calls finished, I told Nick bye and said I would stop in to see him before I left for the day. When I went back at the end of the day, he was still sleeping off the surgery and pain meds.

I saw Nick twice a day until I left Germany. He was in lots of pain and was due to stay in Germany for two weeks and then to return to Iraq, even tho his recovery time is six to eight weeks and his unit is due to leave Iraq in early Dec.

The Colonel at the Chaplain’s office heard about Nick and me and called Public Affairs. They called the Stars and Stripes and AFN and both came in to do a news release about us the last day I was in Germany. I was asked WHY a lot. Why did I go with him? Why did I come to Germany? Why did I work 8+ hours a day? I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that out of all the volunteer work that I have done, this has been the most personally gratifying to me. Someone told me that they thought that it was because I got to see the wounded and be with them. I’m not sure that is it. I think it is because the smallest things mean the most to these troops. I put a pair of socks and shoes on a young man whose feet were very bad. I was being very careful not to hurt them. When I looked up he had tears in his eyes. I told him I was very sorry for hurting him and what could I do to help him. He told me he was not in pain. He said that he could not believe that I put socks and shoes on his f****** nasty feet for him and he thanked me. HE THANKED ME!!! He got those feet defending MY freedom and giving the Iraqi people freedom that they have never had before and HE thanked me. Does anyone see something wrong with that picture?

Karen Grimord

P.S. I have more pictures for the web page as soon as I get caught up around here.

Socks and Back Scratch

10-7 2005

Judy, You know what it is, it is being vested. Not for pay but for the fact they are a human being, they are someone’s son, daughter, father, brother, or sister.

There was another young man in today and he was quite badly chewed up from shrapnel from a tank mine that ripped through his humvee. I first put a pair of footy socks on him and he said, “MMM, you just don’t know what a good pair of socks feels like.” His feet were bad, but those socks must have felt really good. He had just the hospital gown on and I asked him if he would like some pants and he said that he could not wear them due to his leg being so heavily bandaged. I went to the store room and brought back some break-away pants. I asked him if he had anything on under the hospital gown. He said yes and I started to unsnap the one side of the break a way pants and he untied his robe and there he stood in his boxers. I have to admit I was expecting a little more than boxers but he was so excited about those break-away pants, it did not seem to bother him. I had to do most of the clothing since he only had half of one arm to work with.  When he left, he had socks, shoes, some boxers for later and SOMEONE else to help with, break-away pants, and a zip up hoody. He said he was a new human being! He was having some kind of reaction to the drugs and he was itchy. He kept trying to scratch his back on everything. I gave him a good back scratch and he said he would be back down tomorrow after they give him his pain shot, because the walls just don’t scratch like that. My son usef to like my back scratches. He goes back into surgery Friday to remove more shrapnel from his eye, arm, and leg. Please keep him and all these kids in your thoughts and prayers.

I was speaking with a guy who works with patients coming from down range. His patients stay at Ramstein. These are patients that come straight through on the aircraft or that stay at Ramstein for a few days. He got wind of me and our project. They are kind of the forgotten ones and could use our help. They make trips to LRMC for whatever supplies, sweats, shampoo, pj’s, boxers, etc. that LRMC has to give them. We might also be getting a request from a small hospital in the field that does not seem to be getting any or much support.

Karen


 

10-8-05

Sue, I give these guys hugs all the time. I always ask first if it is ok to give them a hug and I have never been told no. When I hug them, I tell them thank you for everything they have done for me and my country and I support them. So I will give the next guy a hug for you.

We have a FOB that needs help now! They are under fire all the time. They get very little if no packages (last package was received 5 weeks ago). I can’t tell you where they are, but they are requesting just about everything. We need trial size shampoo, shaving cream and lotion (not hotel size), candy lets get someone in the group to take charge to do something special for Thanksgiving and Christmas that we can send ASAP. No SINGLE blade razors. I know they are more expensive but the other stuff is crap and the guys hate them. We need letters of support maybe from a school or scout troop.(DO NOT SEAL THE ENVELOPES) We need BEEF jerky, disposable cameras. Let’s get talking so that we know what each other is sending so that we don’t end up with all the same item.

Karen


 

10-10-05

Friday was a slower day. Most of it was sorting in the stock room. I did speak with the nurse from down range and she will be going back down on Monday or Tuesday.

I find it amazing what some people will send to the hospital!!! Some of it we just can not use and must give to Goodwill.

I spoke with the Mr. T, he does the ordering for the clothing closet. What a job he has! He has such a terrible time getting supplies in. What we can order and get labels on and get to him in 3-4 weeks takes him months. I have given him some of my contacts for ordering from Lands End so maybe that will help the process.

I met a young man who will lose his leg once he gets back to the states. He has nerve damage that can not be repaired and they will have to take it off. His liaison came down Thursday to get clothing for this young man’s roommate. I had given her (the liaison) black break-aways, white long sleeve t-shirt, a black hood sweat shirt and black knit hat. The liaison said that the kid who was being dressed and the kid who will lose his leg were going on and on about how sharp he looked in his new duds. She was asked to come back down Friday and get the second kid the same outfit. Well, I did not have a second black hoody but I had a medium grey one so I gave her that.

She asked me if I could take the clothing up to give it to him. OF COURSE !!!! I did not know what to expect, but when I walked into the room there was a young man of about 23. He had a few incisions on his face, but looked great. We talked for about 15 minutes. He told me that he was going to lose his leg when he got back to the States and will get a super human leg. He had such a positive outlook. He was glad to be alive because his buddies did not make it that day. I gave him my card for honoree information for a shipment. He left Saturday for his flight back to the States.

Some of you may know and some of you may not. Last March, I convinced the liquidation company for The Athlete’s Foot Store to give us all the shoes they had left over from their court ordered bankruptcy. One of the conditions was that I had to take EVERYTHING that was left in the store. Well, we had baby shoes, hundreds of shoe laces, sports cleats, reflective safety vests, red and blue footies and gel shoe insoles. I gave the sports cleats to the local schools, some of the shoe laces went to K-2 graders for crafts, the baby shoes went to the Woodbridge American Legion children’s project, and the safety vests went to a Boy Scout Troop that does parking for arenas in AL.

It was the last two items that had me for a loop since I did not want to throw them out but knew no one that wanted them. The guys in the field do not like the gel insoles for their boots and these were mostly woman’s sizes. WELL, I was talking to the Chaplain who works on the mental health ward and he said those guys are forgotten a lot and they only had the hospital slip on slippers. I told him about the little footies I had and asked if they could use them. He checked with the ward and IT IS A GO. Brian has mailed them to me and I will take them in tomorrow.

The gel insoles are also here and will be given to the hospital staff. So, that means that all the items given to us from the Athlete’s Foot Store found good homes and none of it was taken to the dump.

Karen

They Are Not Watching

10-04-05

Today was much slower with patients than yesterday, but I was very busy packing, unpacking, and sorting boxes.

Yesterday I helped a young man who was in a wheelchair. I’m not sure what his injuries were, but I’m guessing they were private in nature. He came to the hospital with only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The weather here has turned cold and rainy, so I knew when he came in he had to be cold. His liaison was talking with another volunteer on the other side of the clothes rack. The young man was just sitting there shaking from the cold.  I asked him if he wanted to put on the sweats pants and the zip up hood right then. He looked around and said he did not think he could. I smiled at him and whispered, “OH, they’re not watching, we can do this.” The zip up hood sweat shirt was easy, but the pants were another issue. We had to do both ankles at the same time then up his legs very slowly, but we got it! When we went around the clothes rack and he was dressed, everyone was shocked. I asked him about his shoe size and thank God we had his size. He could only wear one shoe at the time, but we slipped the other next to him in the chair. He had the biggest smile on his face. I was asked today why and what I got out of doing this? It was the smile on that kid’s face, just makes your heart ten times bigger.

I also realized today the number of our young men wearing hearing aids. It hit me after seeing about four of them come in back to back. I talked to one young man last week, but it was today I realized that we have a lot of them wearing hearing aids.

A patient I spoke with put a twist on the care packages they are receiving down range. I was explaining about the huge amount of toiletries that we have and he laughed and said they have several connex full at his camp. He said that the American people are very generous, but they have so much of it they can not give the stuff away to others in the field. He comes from a camp with a very small exchange. (For non-military here that means they have a very small store). He also explained that people give as if they were the only ones giving to a group, not realizing that there might be 200 or more other people that give to the same group of 100 deployed people. He asked me if I knew what 140 to 160 degrees inside a connex did to deodorant, shaving cream, or shampoo. He said that they have sent thank you letters to people thanking them for their support, and try to nicely say thanks but no thanks, but it still comes. He also explained that if the storage of those items was the only issue, then they could handle it a little easier, but all those boxes cause more convoys. Then he said with convoys come the risk of losing our buddies or our own lives for more of the same stuff that we don’t need. WOW, did that open my eyes a lot!! He was not the only one in the clothing closet and they were all in agreement with the amount of stuff they have at their camps, especially toiletries. One of the guys said if there was a group in the field that did not have any, WHICH HE DOUBTS, (He was at a FOB) he would rather see it go from site to site in the field then have resources wasted the way they are now.

I have done a lot of hmmmm’s since I have been here. Views from the hospital staff, liaisons, the drivers that transport the patients every day, the chaplains, the other Red Cross volunteers, and seeing how we all interact with the patients differently and the patients themselves. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!

Karen


 

10-05-05

Judy, I have a problem with releasing an address to 1,000’s or even 100’s of people. It puts her son in greater risk.

Chaplains are upset that their address is out there on as many sites as it is with incorrect needs of the clothing closet.

I know that a couple of the guys have come in complaining about a site that I know some of you use. They said at first they thought it was a good idea, but then once the address was out there, they could not turn the shipments off even tho their address was not being listed anymore. One marine said this morning that his group came into the field and “adopted” 3 connex full of stuff left from the previous group. They took it all out and destroyed it. They are giving stuff to the Iraq communities because they don’t have a need for it or it has gone bad in the heat.

We also discovered that Iraq seems to get more attention than Afghanistan. But there are places even there that have more than enough stuff. A Major this morning said they are receiving swiffer wet mops. He said, “what are we going to do with those, we don’t have floors.” The captain from Iraq said they did not need another package of baby wipes. From what I can figure out people are taking items from different lists or guessing and just filling boxes.

William, who is a member of this Yahoo group, spent his birthday in Iraq. I sent him 1 package for his birthday. I tried to make it items that I knew he would like and items he could share and enjoy with his friends. I don’t think receiving 2 or 3 thousand birthday cards so he would have to worry about anthrax would have been the way to go. I know that my space in my tent in Bosnia was VERY small (5×8). That space had my cot and had to hold all my gear; I sure would not have wanted two or three thousand cards in it. I can’t imagine how William did it at Christmas playing Santa for us.

I just know that unless I’m told exactly what a group needs; item 1, item 2, and item 3, we are not sending it. I’m not saying don’t give, we just have to do it smart.

Karen


 

10-06-05

This was the busiest day since I have been here. I got hit hard this morning with patients, sometimes up to eight or nine at the same time. I almost broke down and cried today with a patient but I managed to hold it and talk him through the pain spasm he was having, thank God! Just thinking about him brings tears to my eyes.

I am usually the only volunteer working in the morning; sometimes the only one working all day, which is usually not a problem, but this morning was difficult. I had a lot of patients in the clothing closet that I had been helping when this young man (28-32) came in and I knew right away I had to help him fast. I asked him to sit in the chair and I got him shoes. I was on one knee in front of him, when the pain hit bad, he leaned forward and put his forehead on my shoulder.  I whispered in his ear to breath slow and relax. I just kept talking him through the breathing. It took 3 or 4 minutes before we could get the second shoe on. He whispered in my ear, “I hate pain, I can’t take this.” I just wanted to take it for him. The only thing I could think of to whisper back was, “I know hun; it will get better trust me.”

I asked him if he needed a wheelchair back to the room and he said no they (the doctors) told him that he had to start walking. I told him that might be true but he did not have to do it all at once. We waited about a minute more and I helped him up and got him back to his liaison, but it took me a minute before I could turn around and go back into the clothing closet to help the rest of the guys. It was much quieter when I turned around and looked at everyone. I guess they might have been watching us.

In the afternoon, it let up a little bit. Then while I was waiting for the bus to come home, one of the liaisons had a patient whose humvee was hit with an IED. He needed clothing, but the chaplains had left for the day and I did not have the keys anymore. I sat and talked with him while they were trying to find out if they could find his bags from down range. His hands were badly burned and his face was slightly burned as well. He will be transported out very soon to the burn center. We sat and talked for about half an hour. He is from XXXXX and his family does not support what he is fighting for. He believes that this is something that we had to do for the people of Iraq and he HATES CNN. He said that was the worst thing when they came into the country.

Karen