America Supports You Freedom Walk

Freedom Walk Helps Groups Spread Word

By Samantha L. Quigley / American Forces Press Service


ASY Freedom Walk
ASY Freedom Walk

WASHINGTON – As thousands of people filled the Pentagon parking lot at the end of the third America Supports You Freedom Walk today, they were greeted by groups individually working toward the collective goal of supporting troops and their families.

Representatives of more than 20 groups that support America Supports You were on hand to let people know what they do for the troops. America Supports You is a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

The groups, which send care packages and letters, offer support to wounded service members, and assist military families agreed the walk gave them the opportunity to tell the participants how they could support the troops.

“There’s a lot of people out there that don’t realize that you can write to a service member,” said Kristen Petrella, president of the New Jersey-based Hugs from Home, a letter-writing group. “We’re going to … let them know that, ‘Yes, you can do that.’”

Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, treasurer Sharon Buck, said her group participated for the same reason. “Our purpose today is to hand out pamphlets if people are interested in learning what our mission is,” she said.

The project supports the chaplains’ center at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Buck said. Its support arrives at the chaplains’ center in the form of a black backpack containing basic necessities that wounded service members may need but not have when they arrive in Germany, such as underwear, T-shirts, toiletries and other needed items.

Another group participating in the post-Freedom Walk activities, Soldiers’ Angels, successfully spread the word about its efforts by attracting walkers like Karina Rollins with the opportunity to write a message to the troops. The Washington resident, who plans to “adopt” a service member through the group, said supporting the troops is a must for her despite not having any ties to the military.

“I do not have a family member or a friend who is in Iraq, so it’s not a personal thing in that sense,” Rollins said. “We need to show them that we care about more than getting soy lattes and watching ‘American Idol.’ We need to show that we understand that there is something very big and important going on.”

The support groups and walkers said the Freedom Walk did just that, and has done so since the inaugural event on the fourth anniversary of the attacks.

“We need to keep the memory alive,” Carol Watanabe, lead volunteer with Little Patriots Embraced, a Missouri group, said. “It’s important to rally the American people and make them understand that we support … our troops.

“There’s nothing more important than our troops knowing that we are standing behind them,” she said.

Little Patriots Embraced works to relieve stress on the families of deployed service members through care packages that include teddy bears, writing journals and blankets for newborns, Watanabe said.

Cindi Bookout, president of Operation Homefront’s D.C. Metro chapter, agreed that letting troops and their families know they have support is paramount. Her group accomplishes this through chapters in 31 states that provide support to the families of deployed service members.

“The Freedom Walk is important because it lets (service members) know that there are thousands of people all over the United States – not just here in Washington, D.C., but all over the (country) – that support our service members,” she said.

With more than 230 walks scheduled to take place between yesterday and Sept. 11, in all 50 states and 10 countries, Americans are doing just that — thanking those who serve, remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and commemorating the tragic events of six years ago.

This year’s America Supports You Freedom Walk began at the Lincoln Memorial and ended with a musical tribute by the Harlem Gospel Choir in the Pentagon’s parking lot.

ASY Freedom WalkASY Freedom Walk
ASY Freedom WalkASY Freedom Walk
ASY Freedom WalkASY Freedom Walk
ASY Freedom WalkASY Freedom Walk

Black Jack Brigade

By Spc. Alexis Harrison
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs


Black Jack Brigade
Camden, S.C., native, Sgt. Jerry Smalls with Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, checks out a lab specimen while working in the troop medical clinic on Forward Operating Base Prosperity in central Baghdad. Soldiers with “Trauma” Company have been receiving care packages full of useful items from the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project founder and president Karen Grimord since February. The project helps Soldiers down range with items like personal hygiene, clothing and comfort items.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq – The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project organization took President Coolidge’s words to heart when it began shipping packages to deployed medical units nearly three years ago.

“The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” – Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States

Just a few months after troops from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, arrived in Iraq, Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, of the Black Jack Brigade, began receiving packages from the Virginia-based non-profit organization.

“Trauma” Company’s top non-commissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Anthony Pena, said he didn’t even have to ask about getting things when his unit first arrived to Forward Operating Base Falcon last fall. The packages just started arriving.

Most of the items are geared toward comforting Soldiers who had been injured or become sick. Items like DVD players, DVDs, shorts, shirts and blankets began arriving to the aid station. Along with the “comfort” items, valuable medical supplies like “scrubs” and desk-reference books arrived on an almost weekly basis, even after the medical company moved from FOB Falcon earlier this year.

Pena said that he receives e-mails from the president of the organization, Karen Grimord, asking what his company’s needs and wants are. He was amazed that many of the things they ask for are obtained quite quickly.

“All my Soldiers know when I get a box from Karen,” Pena said. “They all gather around for me to open it.”

Pena said that getting items like the uniforms puts less strain on his supply system. He observed that nothing sent to him ever goes to waste. He notices his Soldiers wearing the gifts almost daily while working in the clinic.

Spc. Lisa Beasley, an East St. Louis, Ill., native with Company C, said that although uniforms like the scrubs are essential to her daily routine, it’s more the thought that counts.

“Some people spend a lot of money helping us Soldiers out,” Beasley said. “It makes it more special when you know it comes from the heart.”

Black Jack Brigade
East St. Louis, Ill., native, Spc. Lisa Beasley with Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, prepares to X-ray Atlanta native, Spc. Stephanie Thompson. Soldiers with “Trauma” Company have been receiving care packages full of useful items for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project founder and president Karen Grimord since February. The project helps Soldiers down range with items like personal hygiene, clothing and comfort items.

Beasley and the rest of the medics, doctors, nurses and techs use scrubs on a daily basis while working in the clinic. Beasley said that many people envy the teams there because scrubs keep your body much cooler during the hot Iraqi summer.

Grimord said that she even made a special shipment of pink scrub tops for all the girls working in the clinic in celebration of Valentine’s Day this past February.

Pena said that although nothing goes to waste, not all of it gets used by his clinic. His company donates some items like clothing and linens to local nationals who live on the base.

According to the group’s quarterly newsletter published on their website, more than 24,000 pounds of supplies have been shipped down range since the project began in 2004.

Karen Grimord began the small-time operation after visiting Ramstein Air Force Base. She returned to America and with help from her family and a group of Boy Scouts from Alabama, gathered hundreds of DVDs and VHS tapes to send to service members recuperating at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

She remained in contact with the chaplain at the center and asked what else she could do for the Soldiers.

Now the organization has grown. The organization has many corporate and civic sponsors ranging from two dozen American Legion posts to Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) posts to large corporations, and that doesn’t include hundreds of individual and family sponsors listed on the website.

In February, Grimord was called to the White House to visit the President and receive special thanks from him for all the organization’s efforts to support service members abroad.

After more than 500 pounds of clothing and supplies have been shipped to the Black Jack Troops stationed in Iraq, Grimord said that she and Pena have become good friends and hope to continue working together in the future.

Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

Bikers Ride, Play Cards for Good Cause



HOG Rally 19
Good Cause

Bikers from around the region will gather Sunday to take a little road trip, play some poker and raise money for a good cause.

Starting at 8:30 a.m., motorcycles will gather at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1503 in Dale City to begin the second annual Landstuhl Hospital Care Project Charity Poker Ride.

“Bikers are big supporters of a lot of non-profit organizations and charities,” said Landstuhl Hospital Care Project founder and biker Karen Grimord. “Some bikers have tattoos, leather and the whole nine yards, but they have deep pockets too and love to help out.”

Sunday’s charity event, which also includes a variation of five-card stud poker, will bring bikers on a 117-mile journey through Manassas, Woodbridge and then into Stafford where they will finish at American Legion Post 290, according to Michael Lee, chairman of the poker ride.

In order to play the poker game, riders, who pay a $20 entry fee, get a spreadsheet that contains all card numbers and suits at the start of the event, Lee said, noting that entry-fees go to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Participants make five stops along the route to draw cards and those with the highest hand, and the lowest, win a cash prize at the end.

“Most motorcyclists like to come out and support these things,” Lee said, noting that they had about 100 participants last year and raised about $7,000. “They don’t need much of an excuse to get out and ride.”

Prizes are awarded at the end of the ride at the Stafford American Legion, Lee said. There will also be food, a 50/50 raffle and door prizes that have been donated by area businesses.

The Landstuhl project is a non-profit organization that purchases and supplies “comfort and relief” items for military personnel sick or injured in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, according to its Web site. Items are distributed to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq and to Veterans Affairs facilities in America.

“I’m a Vietnam vet,” Lee said, about why he got involved with the poker ride. “I know these kids are coming back seriously wounded and then oftentimes are just forgotten. They come out of Afghanistan or Iraq, show up at Landstuhl and have nothing – no toothbrushes, clean clothes, nothing. This project helps out with that.”

Grimord said they send a variety of supplies, but what is currently in demand is duffle bags, breakaway pants, pajama bottoms for men, fleece blankets and men’s travel size deodorant. The organization ships every week, Grimord said, adding that they will soon be getting, and then shipping, 1,400 pounds of blankets.

“I know these kids overseas need all the help they can get and that’s my motivation, and the motivation of the people involved,” Lee said. “I’m just happy people have fun and are raising money for a good cause.”

Grimord said the Landstuhl project also aims to help keep up troops’ spirits, letting soldiers know they have support back home. Grimord said that oftentimes the men and women feel they aren’t supported, and she hopes the donations and photos from fundraisers like the poker ride will show them otherwise.

“If the troops could only see the people that come out on this ride and see how much support they have,” Grimord said. “It is just a great event and shows many people do care.”


Want to go?

What: Landstuhl Hospital Care Project Charity Poker Ride

Where: VFW Post 1503 – 14631 Minnieville Road in Dale City

Time: Registration begins at 8:30 am.; the ride at 10 a.m.

Cost: $20 and an additional $5 to play two poker games.

Jenny Boyle Concert

By Carmen L. Gleason / American Forces Press Service


Birchmere Music Hall

WASHINGTON – The owners of a musical landmark on the outskirts of the nation’s capital and a vocalist who uses her talents to entertain U.S. troops kicked off Fourth of July festivities for local service members here last night as a way of thanking them for their service.

Gary Oelze and Ralph Capobianco, co-owners of the Birchmere Music Hall, closed their doors to the general public to treat about 150 veterans, reservists and active-duty military to an evening of free food. Then musician Jenny Boyle and her band took the stage to “wow” the crowd as she belted out a mix of original work and classic hits that had the crowd hanging on her every syllable.

“We’ve both been in the service,” said Capobianco, a former Naval aviator. “We were pleased to close off the venue for our service members.”

Oelze, a former Air Force pilot, said it was a fun way to thank the crowd for their military service.

Boyle is no stranger to military audiences. The singer has traveled to 26 countries to perform for troops, in addition to performing multiple times at the Pentagon and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C.

“This is how I thank these folks for what they do on a daily basis for our freedom,” she said of her performance. “We have the best men and women serving our armed forces,” she said. “And there’s nothing I love more than telling them that.”

Not only does she sing and play guitar, Boyle is also a songwriter. Calling it one of her most exciting tunes, Boyle said “World of Dust,” was written following her visit to troops deployed to Afghanistan and the song is her tribute to them.

Deployments are monotonous, said audience member Marine Sgt. Noah Tretter. Currently serving as a tour guide for visitors at the Defense Department’s headquarters, Tretter has deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

“When someone comes out to the middle of nowhere to perform for troops it means a lot,” he said. “And when they are talented like this young lady it makes it even better.”

Almost showtime

Although the evening centered on expressing appreciation to troops, several grassroots support groups also attended to educate the audience on the services available to them and their families.

Members of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, which spotlights troop-support efforts and helps to connect home-front groups with service members and their families at home and abroad, had information booths set up in the Birchmere’s lobby.

“It’s plain and simple, I want troops to know that we are here for them and support them,” said Karen Grimord of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Her organization provides comfort and relief items to military members who become sick or injured from their service.

Her organization has shipped more than 14,000 pounds of sweat suits, house slippers and personal hygiene items to the medical center in Germany since December 2004.

Operation First Response President Peggy Baker shared Grimord’s sentiments. Since 2004, her group has assisted more than 2,000 families or troops coming through Landstuhl and Walter Reed medical centers with both personal and financial needs.

At her booth last night, she had a quilt on which supporters could write messages. The quilt, which was nearly covered by night’s end, will soon find its way into a backpack along with clothing and hygiene items that will be delivered to a combat support hospital in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The concert had a special meaning for Baker, whose son deployed to Iraq in March. “It goes to show that there are so many Americans supporting our troops,” she said. “It is amazing.”

“The entire event was wonderful,” Baker said. “You can always tell when you’re in a room filled with heroes; and the Birchmere had a special feeling tonight.

December 9, 2012
Jenny Boyle Concert

Jenny Boyle and Band
Jenny Boyle and Band

Military attending concert interested in project
Military attending concert interested in project

Karen and Vince from the Office of Secretary of Defense Entainment.
Karen and Vince from the Office of Secretary of Defense Entertainment.

Jenny Boyle Concert
Jenny Boyle Concert

Karen and ASY group
Karen and ASY group

Jenny Boyle Concert

Karen thanks Jenny
Karen thanks Jenny

Group sends ‘stitches’ to injured soldiers

‘Stitches’ to injured soldiers

Knitted gifts are their ‘way to help’

By Meghan Van Dyk
Daily Record



Maureen Moniz knew when she learned how to nit at age 6 that the skill would come in handy to stitch scarves, sweaters and blankets as gifts for loved ones.

But she never thought her handiwork would be worn by wounded American soldiers overseas.

Decades later, Moniz now collects and ships handmade blankets, Afghans, knapsacks and cast socks to troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Her effort is on behalf of the Madison-based Stitches of Love, part of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project (LHCP), a larger program that supplies the U.S. military hospital with every thing from toothpaste to clothing to lab equipment.

“I was looking for a way to help, and I was thinking I could do something for our troops,” sand Moniz who lives in Convent Station. “LHCP looked great because I knew I could knit.”

Stitches of Love has about 90 members in the United States, Germany and Israel. Moniz collects and ships between 15 and 25 blankets every month. She has knitted 10 of her own since she became coordinator in August.

Stitched to each blanket is a tag that reads “With my deepest gratitude and respect. Thank you for your service,” Moniz said. “They are like an emotional hug to each soldier.”

Knitters are asked by the organization to be creative and to keep in mind that recipients will be mostly males- meaning no pin, red or lace, Moniz said.

A shipment

This month’s shipment will include 11 quilts made by a group from the Defense Language Institute in California. Thirty, 6-inch squares of fabric, each featuring a drawing or note to the troops, are sewn together to form 3 foot by 5 foot blankets.

The quilts this month are being sent in honor of Specialist Ross McGinnis, 19, of Knox, Pa., who died in Baghdad after smothering a grenade to save his battalion.

“It’s hard not to think about who the recipients will be when you’re making them,” Moniz said. “Many are children who don’t have their mothers. I am eternally grateful there are young men and women who leave home so my daughter can be with me.”

The boxes are donated by Pack Ship N More in Madison and the shipping costs are donated by Moniz’s husband Joe’s electrical contracting business. Moniz wished to keep the company’s name anonymous.

Quilt for SOL
Quilt for SOL

Although it’s difficult to quantify how many wounded troops are touched by LHCP, Founder and President Karen Grimord estimates more than 2,000 received some form of help from the organization last month alone.

Grimord started LHCP after noticing the hospital’s lack of videos and DVD’s to entertain recovering troops during a 2004 visit.

When she returned, she collected more than 400.

Then, she learned there was a lack of underwear, then shoes and sweat suits.

“From day one, I was born on a military base to a military family,” Grimord said, fighting back tears. “I know what (the troops) go through, how they feel.

To do this little bit for them, compared to what they’re doing for us–so many people take it for granted–it’s the least I can do.”

Grimord collects supplies from her home in Stafford, VA. With help from volunteers from the American Legion, the ROTC and even her husband Brian Grimord ships an average of 2,300 pounds of supplies to the German hospital each week.

For Grimord and Moniz, there is no end in sight.

Even when the troops come home, LHCP will continue to support U.S. troops at home in local Veteran Affairs hospitals nationwide, Grimord said.

Moniz, a retired infant care nurse, now runs her husband’s electrical contracting business. She also volunteers to cook soup for the homeless at St. Vincent Martyr Church in Madison and translates books into Braille for the American Red Cross Metro Chapter of N.J. in Fairfield.

“I’d like to see a world where we need no blankets, where there are no wounded soldiers,” Moniz said. “But as long as there are we’ll be here.”


Stitches of Love (LHCP) ships more that 2,300 pounds of supplies each month to hospitals in Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. The locations were incompletely reported.

Landstuhl Project appreciates marines’ Help

Patriot Editor


Quantico Ceremony
Quantico Marines Receive a Big Thank You and Certificate From LHCP President Karen Grimord

A group of Leathernecks from Marine Corps Base Quantico was honored Dec. 12 for their volunteer work on behalf of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.

Lance Cpl. Marcela Cavalcanti, Lance Cpl. Amber Goodman, Lance Cpl. Victor Solis, Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy and government employee Mindy Yurkonis were among the volunteers who packed 1,288 pounds of supplies last month at Stafford American Legion Post 290. The donated supplies were then shipped to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and to 18 units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The day that we packed turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day somewhere, but not here in Virginia,” said Landstuhl Hospital Care Project President Karen Grimord before she presented the volunteers with certificates of appreciation at Lejeune Hall. “We had torrential rain, tornados and downright miserable weather.”

The Quantico group got involved in the effort after Grimord contacted Master Gunnery Sgt. William Nix to see if he would be able to provide volunteers to help pack the project’s November shipment.

“He contacted Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy who in turn sent out an e-mail and received several replies,” she said.

Quantico Ceremony
Lance Cpl. Amber Goodman, legal clerk, presented certificat of appreciation form LHCP President.

During the several hours it took the Marines and project volunteers to complete the packing, Grimord said she never heard, “are these supplies going to Marines?”

“Our service men and women are from all branches of the military, and they are all members of one big family. Family takes care of one another,” she continued. “During these times it is necessary for members of the family to draw together and support one another. These dedicated volunteers proved their active role within this extended family unit.”

Since founding the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project in November of 2004, Grimord and her husband, Brian, have spearheaded sending personal care and other relief items to Landstuhl and field hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan for war-wounded patients. The items include sweats suits, tennis shoes, CD players, skull caps, socks, phone cards, house slippers, break-away pants, winter jackets, board games, hand-held electronic games and decks of playing cards.

Each shipment that LHCP sends is sent in honor of a military member who has made the ultimate sacrifice and lost his or her life in service to the country. For more information on the project or to make a donation,


Marines help Stafford post with care packages

Patriot Editor


Quantico Ceremony
Marines Saved The Day

More than 1,200 pounds of personal care items are now on their way to injured and sick troops overseas, thank to the efforts of the Stafford based Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.

Marines from Headquarters Battalion, marine Corps Base Quantico and American Legion Post 290 in Stafford packed hundreds of blankets, scrub pants, sheets, towels and snacks into card board boxes on Nov. 16 for shipment to Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If it hadn’t been for these guys coming in, I would never make the post office today.” said Karen Grimord, LHCP president, of the Marines.

The Landstuhl project is a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded due to their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Donated items are distributed to military patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States, and to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Quantico Ceremony
Quantico Ceremony

“We’re not there. We’re here to do what we can,” pointed out Lance Cpl. Marcela Cavalcanti.

Spending the time packing helped Lance Cpl. Amber Goodman also feel closer to the area she now calls home.

“i love to volunteer,” she said. “I love getting out and meeting the community.”

Grimord explained that the purpose of the program is to enhance the morale and welfare of the wounded service members by contributing quality of life items.

“I think it’s a great cause,” added Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy.

The Landstuhl project’s monthly shipments are sent in honor of a service member who has been killed while on duty.

Quantico Ceremony
MSGT Kevin Murphy

The November honoree is Marine 1st Lt. Frederick Pokorney, 31, of Tonopah, Nev. Pokorney was assigned to Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade when he was killed in action along with eight other Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based Marines on March 23, 2003, near An Nasiriyah, Iraq.

The volunteers honored Polorney with a moment of silence before they began filling the boxes in his honor.




Quantico Sentry

By Cpl Sha’ahn

Combat Correspondent

The American Legion Post 290 in Stafford, VA., honored a group of Marines from Quantico Dec. 12 on behalf of the Landstuhl HOspital Care Project in recognition of their hard work and help volunteering to make care packages to send to field hospitals around the world.

From junior to senior enlisted, the marine volunteeers packed 1,299 pounds of supplies last month in Stafford.  The donated supplies were then shipped to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and to 18 units in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The personal care items support all service members in need and were packed during downright miserable weather, said Karen Grimord, president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.

“It was a sunny day some where, but not in Virginia,” Grimord said.  “it really would not have gotten done without the help of these Marines.”

The Quantoco gorup got involved after Grimord contacted master Gunnery Sgt. William Nix, manpower chief at Quatioc, to round up volunteers.
After the calls and contact was made, the Mariens formed a small team and went to work.

During the time it took the Mariens and other volunteers to complete the packing, Grimord said the Marines never asked if the supplies were going to other Marines.

“A Famiy takes care of one another,” se said. “Our service men and women are from all branches of the military, and they are all members of one big family.

“These dedicated volunteers proved their active role within this extended family unit,” Grimord said before presenting the Marines with their certificates of appreciation.

“It’s good to help out and do something like this because they need us,” said Lance Cp. Amber Goodman, a legal clerk here.

Sent monthly, each shipment that the LHCP sends is in honor of a military service member who has lost his or her life in service to the country.

Since 2004, Grimord and her husband, Brian, have worked hard to send personal care and other relief items to Landstuhl and field hospitals overseas for war-wounded patients.

Items include clothing, phone cards, electronic games, CD players, jackets and sheets.

FOr more information about the project, or to make a donation, viist the Web site at

American Supports You Summit

In November 2004, theDepartment of Defense launched the America Supports You program to highlight and  communicate the support of the American people to members of our armed forces and their families.America Supports You makes a direct connection between grassroots groups and our troops. The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project is a proud new member of the America Supports You family!

ASY Camille and Karen
ASY Camille and Karen

ASY Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld
By Samantha L. Quigley/AFPS
Pictures by Karen Grimord


WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2006 – After a holiday tour of the White House, participants in today’s America Supports You Community Group Summit met at the Pentagon for a welcome from the program’s architect, a look at the past year, and a glimpse into the America Supports You program’s future.

Donald H. Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense

America Supports You is a Defense Department program launched in 2004 that spotlights and facilitates support for the nation’s servicemembers from the American public and the corporate sector.

“It’s great to have you here today on our second annual America Supports You Summit at the Pentagon,” Allison Barber, deputy secretary of defense for internal communication and public liaison, told the group representing more than 80 America Supports You grassroots organizations.

“Through (America Supports You) and your partnership in this program, we have real ways to make sure that the troops always know – and their families always know – politics is one debate and one discussion,” she added. “But on the people side of that discussion, there’s only one message, and that’s that the American people support our troops.”

Barber commended all of the nearly 250 America Supports You members for their accomplishments this year. A combined total of more than 6 million care packages and letters have been sent to the troops. Groups have raised nearly $3.5 million in financial support for servicemembers and their families and have renovated more than two dozen homes for wounded servicemembers.

This is in addition to organizing and participating in Freedom Walks in all 50 states to commemorate 9/11 and honor the nation’s servicemembers, both past and present.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

“Don’t ever slow down,” Barber encouraged the groups. “That’s the beauty of you. You’re agile. You’re effective. You move the needle.”

The group got a glimpse at some of the different avenues America Supports You will take in the new year. The program plans to bring Capitol Hill into the mix in 2007, Barber said.

“The Department of Defense’s strategy, on purpose, has been not to really be involved on the Hill in the first two years, … because we wanted people to know that America Supports You is not political,” she said. “In 2007, now we will reach out to the Hill and start an America Supports You caucus so that some of the issues that are concerns for you and your states and across the country will be able to bubble up with Congress.”

Donald H. Rumsfeld

Of particular interest for 2007 is the New Year’s resolution America Supports You is encouraging its corporate members to make: “Adopt an America Supports You Grassroots Organization Today!”

Some — like Jeanette Cram, founder of an organization called “Treat the Troops,” already have realized the benefit of partnering with an America Supports You corporate team member. Cram said a partnership between her organization and DuPont Teflon will help with her biggest challenge in getting fresh, homemade cookies to troops overseas: postage.

“America Supports You … got me hooked up with the right people,” Cram said. “Treat the Troops is not a big, powerful organization; there’s not a whole lot of us. (But) to be recognized by America Supports You and DuPont, that lends a lot of credibility to us.”

Cram said she hopes the summit would be an opportunity for her to meet and network with some of the other groups attending.

This was the second summit for teenager Brittany Bergquist of Norwell, Mass., and she agreed it’s a great way to meet people and develop new connections with groups that can either lend a hand or need a hand.


“We had such a great time last year and were able to meet so many great people who we thought it would be a really good idea to come back and try to network a little more,” said Brittany, who co-founded Cell Phones for Soldiers with her brother, Robbie, in April 2004. “There definitely are a lot of new faces that we don’t recognize from last year, so it’s nice to meet new people.”

The morning concluded with a briefing on the global war on terrorism by Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schissler and a discussion with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Both offered the group a chance to ask any questions they had.

Rumsfeld fielded a question that drew loud applause regarding how to go about changing the law to allow for reduced postage for groups shipping package overseas. The answer perhaps wasn’t what the group had hoped for, but it drew some chuckles. “Get your congressmen and senators to change the law,” Rumsfeld answered.

American Supports You Summit 13 Dec 2006

Agenda for Summit

White House Holiday Tour
(orginal link
Click to view “Deck the Halls and Welcome All”
(original link

Arrive at Pentagon

Welcome and Introduction
Ms. Allison Barber
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

Update on the Global War on Terror

Brigadier General Mark O. Schissler
Deputy Director of the War on Terrorism

Discussion and remarks

Donald H. Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense

Ethics Overview

Stephen Epstein
Director of the Standards of Conduct office of the General Counsel

all BOXED up Residents aid injured soldiers

Hundreds of pounds of supplies packed up and shipped out to help soldiers injured overseas

Date published: 9/19/2006


Kat Higgins
Kat Higgins’ husband has been in Landstuhl Hospital twice. She volunteers with the hospital care project, helping box up donations from around the world for the U.S. military hospital.

Residents of Stafford County and elsewhere came out last week to pack up 700 pounds of supplies to be shipped to a military hospital in Germany.

Starting early Wednesday morning, the volunteers worked diligently at the Stafford American Legion Post 290, packing up sweat pants and shirts, not to mention other supplies.

“It’s a whole truckload of goods,” said Duane Morrison, American Legion spokesman.

The goods were sent to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany later that day for soldiers injured in Iraq, Morrison said.

He said the American Legion wanted to help out an effort called Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a national program providing supplies for injured soldiers.

“These soldiers are typically issued a standard hospital gown and that’s it,” Morrison said. “Then, they have to spend a lot of time in it.”

All boxed up
All boxed up

To help these soldiers, volunteers provide money, solicit donations of goods or money, buy needed items and then ship the goods to the hospital.

Since the project started a few years ago, about 4 tons of goods have been shipped. The biggest shipment thus far was 1,600 pounds.

Karen Grimord, president of the project, said this latest shipment was one of the best.

“We got a super-excellent donation of blankets, and we weren’t charged for the shipping,” she said.

After the merchandise was shipped out on Wednesday, Grimord said she came home to find more goods that will go out in the next mailing.

All boxed up
All boxed up

The American Legion is hosting a fundraiser for the project Sunday at the post at 1204 American Legion Road. There will be food, a silent auction, raffles and a horseshoe tournament.

Anyone interested in donating goods for the soldiers is asked to drop it off at the event. Donors also can call Grimord at 540/286-1539, and a pickup might be possible. However, she said they can accept only new bedding and comfortable clothing.

For more information on the project visit landstuhlhospital

To reach JODI BIZAR: 540/374-5000, ext. 5627


Grassroots Project Provides Comfort

Air Force wives collect blankets, bedding for military hospitals

By Julia LeDoux
Patriot Editor


The Patriot
LHCP’s shipment is in 🙂

Grassroots project provides comfort-Air Force wives collect blankets, bedding for military hospitals

Six hundred pounds of sheets and blankets were delivered to Karen Grimord’s home in Stafford last Thursday, and she could not have been happier.

.“This will take care of a lot of needs for the hospitals for two months,” said Grimord, president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a grassroots organization that provides comfort and relief items for service members who become sick or are injured in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan.


The Patriot
Inspecting shipment

Grimord and volunteers Sherry Karlson and Angie Ribuffo-all Air Force wives- quickly unloaded the bedding supplies from the back of a semi-truck and stored them in Grimord’s garage.

“There’s enough room for my husband’s motorcycle,” laughed Grimord, who became serious as she discussed the organization’s mission.

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project began in 2005 and is supported by American Legions Posts and Auxiliaries in Arlington, Lorton, Springfield, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Culpepper, Woodbridge, Fredericksburg, Annadale, Centreville and Triangle she explained. Its efforts are also supported through donations that come in from all across the country via its website,

“Nobody asked us to do it, we just did it,” said Grimord, who has family members who have served in the Middle East. It was through that connection that Grimord discovered that patients at Landstuhl and medics serving on the front lines needed items like bedding, toiletries and clothing.

The Patriot
Patriot at work

Grimord and her family began collecting the items and shipping them overseas but discovered they could not do it all by themselves. She contacted area American Legion Posts, who quickly joined in the effort. To date, three tons of donated items have been sent to troops serving overseas.

Each monthly shipment sent by the group honors a fallen service member, continued Grimord, who said the quality of life items lift the spirits of wounded troops and remind them that people “back home” appreciate their sacrifice. September’s shipment honors PFC Benjamin T. Zieske, 20, who died May 3 of injuries he sustained in Kirkuk, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted combat patrol. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327 Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

The Patriot
One more box

“You can’t forget the ones who are over there,” Karlson added.

Each month the list of needed items changes and can be found on the project’s Web site. Donated items must be new and packaged and can be dropped off at Grimord’s home at 29 Greenleaf Terrace in Stafford.

Monetary donations can be sent to Sharon Buck, project treasurer, at 14101 Rectory Lane, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772. (Address has changed since article printed)

Volunteers planned to pack up the latest shipment Wednesday at the Stafford American Legion.

The Patriot
LHCP teamwork

The group plans to hold a barbecue benefit with hotdogs, hamburgers and more to raise money for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project on Sept 24 beginning at 2 pm at the Stafford American Legion Post 290’s horseshoe team challenges all comers to a competition during the benefit. Entrance fee for a two-person team is $100 with all proceeds benefiting wounded warriors at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany. Teams should contact vice commander Bruce Miller at (540) 659-2394 to reserve their team’s spots.

Grassroots Efforts
Grassroots Efforts by LHCP

Manassas HOG Chapter Poker Run

A Winning Hand for Soldiers



Justin Reynolds getting Kissed by Karen
Karen Grimord, president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, kisses the hand of Justin Reynolds prior to the Poker Run, which started in Manassas and ended in Woodbridge Sunday, June 18, 2006. The 120-mile route allowed local bikers to take part in an event where the proceeds would go to the Landstuhl Project, which provides relief items to members of the military who have been injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. Reynolds is one of those soldiers, sustaining injuries while serving in Iraq. (Photo By Joe Brier / Staff Photographer)

On Feb. 3, somewhere in Iraq, U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Justin A. Reynolds drove a Humvee over an improvised explosive device. Both of Reynolds’ feet were broken, along with a bone in his leg and shrapnel tore through his knee.

A short time later, the entire left side of his body was paralyzed and the 22-year-old lost vision as a result of a virus he contracted after the explosion, said Reynolds’ father, Bob Reynolds. Had it not been for Karen Grimord and her charity organization, the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, Bob said he and his wife wouldn’t have known how to manage. “As parents not in the service we didn’t know who to call [for help],” the Ohioan said. “[Grimord] was his mother over there as far as we’re concerned.”

About 80 motorcyclists signed up Sunday morning for the Manassas chapter of Harley Owners Group’s Poker Run – a charity ride to benefit the project. The game was five-card stud poker. Each motorcyclist paid $15 per hand, randomly picking their first card at Whitt’s Harley Davidson in Manassas – where the ride started – then picking the next three cards at various stops along the 120-mile pre-planned route and ending at American Legion Post 364 in Woodbridge, said Mike Lee, coordinator of the event.

Landstuhl Hospital Care Project provides comfort and relief items to sick, injured and wounded military members who served in Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan. Before the rally, Reynolds – a soft-spoken, stout young man – sat in his wheelchair and delivered a brief and selfless speech, thanking Grimord and the attendees for their support. “Your support is what makes us men and women do our job,” he said. “It gives us wounded soldiers a piece of home, when our only possessions are cutups and hospital scrubs.” Tears spilled from Grimord’s eyes as Reynolds closed his speech. “Karen was my mother away from home and she will always be in my heart.”

Based out of Grimord’s Stafford home, the organization took form after she took a trip to Germany in August 2004 to visit her daughter and son-in-law who were stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base, about 10 miles from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. There was no grand vision in Grimord’s mind, though, when she first began sending care packages from the states to the Landstuhl. After sending her first package of about 500 DVDs, Grimord almost immediately called the hospital chaplain to find out what else they needed.

Nearly two years later, the program has expanded to a nationally sponsored organization that makes monthly shipments tailored to the needs of each hospital. “If the hospital needs Colgate toothpaste, we send Colgate toothpaste,” she said. “We don’t send them Crest.” Each Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom patient receives a $250 voucher from the Department of Defense, Grimord said, that can be used at the Post Exchange. Most arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their back, she said, and the needs of the men and women sometimes exceed the allowance.

Kris Paquette, a three-year motorcyclist, said she was shocked to learn the military does not provide the sick, injured and wounded with any personal care items beyond the $250 voucher. “It’s a crime that the military doesn’t provide our troops, with adequate clothing, toiletries and other comfort items,” she said. “This is just such a good cause.”

Dan Sullivan, who retired in September of last year as a lieutenant colonel in the Army, found the cause to be particularly dear to him. “It just makes it a little more comfortable for them over there,” he said. “Makes them feel less like a patient and more like a human.” Reynolds is currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and has a year left of service.

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.”

Stafford woman helps clothe overseas wounded soldiers

Soldiers get sweat pants and shirts from Stafford resident and veterans


Daniel Caballero
Daniel Caballero

Wounded U.S. soldiers undergoing treatment in Germany are in the thoughts of a Stafford County woman who, with the help of contributors and area veterans, is making sure these soldiers get something they need–warm, comfortable clothing.

Karen Grimord, who has seven family members serving overseas, is sending shipments of sweat pants and shirts to wounded soldiers.

She found out that the wounded soldiers needed sweats several months ago while visiting her daughter, who was stationed in Germany.

Medical personnel have to remove wounded soldiers’ uniforms, and they don’t have anything comfortable to wear while receiving treatment, Grimord was told.

The only requirements on the sweats, she said, is that they be new and sized large or extra large.

“We’re just trying to do something to help them,” she said.

So she and her family set to work saving money and buying up as many as she could find.

“I probably spend nine or 10 hours on the phone doing this,” she says.

She also appealed to area veterans associations, including the American Legion in Stafford, which contributed $1,600.

Post Commander Fred Miller said all overseas soldiers are sent to Germany for treatment these days, and when Grimord ap-proached the legion with her request it was quickly granted.

Others have chipped in, too, and Grimord said she has raised $3,200.

That’s enabled her to buy more than 30 boxes of sweat pants and shirts totaling about 700 pairs.

And she’s not done. “I’ll keep doing it as long as the money keeps coming in,” she said.

She said word of what they’ve been doing has spread, and she’s getting donations from all around the country.

One of the shipments will be dedicated to Petty Officer Daniel Martin Caballero, who was killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. Grimord said a friend of his who is helping with the effort to collect the clothing asked that it be dedicated to Caballero.

Miller said there are other efforts afoot to help soldiers, including shipments of snacks.

The American Legion has been collecting lightweight, nonperishable snacks for soldiers to carry around in their pockets.

Anyone interested in helping out with these efforts can call the American Legion at 659-4461 or Grimord at 286-1539.

To reach JODI BIZAR: 374-5000, ext. 5627

Packing Sweats for Wounded Troops

Stafford, VA

09 Jan 2005

Daniel Caballero
Daniel Caballero