Helping to heal wounds of war

Stafford woman who helps recovering soldiers in Landstuhl Hospital in Germany visits with President Bush



George W. Bush
President Bush, left, gives a tour to members of military service organizations who support U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Karen Grimord was born in 1961, the same year John F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

On Wednesday, the Stafford County resident got the chance to ask the current president what she could do for her country.

Just keep doing what you’re doing, she said was the gist of President George W. Bush’s reply.

Grimord received an invitation to the White House because of her nonprofit group, Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. She was one of 10 people honored this week by the America Supports You organization, which recognizes programs offering support to the United States military.

Grimord started the organization in 2004, after visiting her daughter and son-in-law, who were stationed in Germany. She toured the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and learned that the wounded U.S. troops wanted DVDs to watch while recuperating.

Her family helped Grimord collect 485 DVDs. Next, she began gathering and distributing sweat suits when a chaplain told her the troops often arrived at the hospital with only hospital gowns. Soon, the project exploded as special requests poured in, and the group started sending packages to field hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Grimord has volunteered at Landstuhl twice, including a visit on her 25th wedding anniversary.

People often ask Grimord why she does so much for the troops.

She does it partly for her father, her husband and her son-in-law, who all served in the Air Force, and for her son in the Navy.

But it isn’t that simple, she said.

“I didn’t find LHCP, LHCP found me, you know what I mean?” she said. “It knocked me on top of my head and said, ‘This is what you have to do.'”

Grimord hopes she expressed this to President Bush, but she can’t remember everything she said to him.

She does remember that when he entered the room, she remained standing until he sat down–a military protocol her father had ingrained in her.

“My dad would have kicked me from here to Puerto Rico if I had sat down before the president did,” she said.

She said the president thanked her for her work, but she shrugged off the praise.

“It’s so awesome for me to get up every single day to pack boxes, to raise money, or for me to go to Germany to work in the hospital,” Grimord said. “It’s worth it to me, because the troops do so much more than what we are doing.”

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973

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