East Coast Wounded Warriors
November 20th Dinner:
The PHHS volunteers had another busy Sunday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on November 20th. Suppers of burritos, salad and chip from California Tortilla were served in the 4th floor conference room. One hundred fifty dinners were ordered and all were eaten.
Volunteers on the 4th floor also distributed the PHHS tote bags and the Wounded Warrior resource book to family members. A mom who has been at the hospital for 13 weeks said she loved the book. She said it was easier to read than the material that had been provided to her from the military or the VA.
Volunteers Rene and Paul took food to the 7th floor where Wounded Warriors suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury are treated. The term Post Traumatic Stress or PTS has replaced the previous term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Veterans Moving Forward service dog, Clyde, again was a huge hit on the ward. The VMF dogs have really helped bring Wounded Warrior “John” out of his shell according to his mother. Serving food on the 7th floor allows family members visiting their Wounded Warrior to share a meal together and their stories of hope and success. Sometimes talking to the volunteers has been as appreciated as the food itself.
Rene and Paul also served five meals to families in the Critical Care Unit waiting room. Another five family members from CCU walked up the 4th floor to enjoy the food and company in the conference room.
The PHHS volunteers provide all the beverages; from young Marines’ favorite, Mountain Dew, to ice tea and bottled water. Volunteers are also providing disposable trays so family members have an easier time taking food back to their Wounded Warriors’ room. Providing disposable (rather than reusable) trays is how the PHHS volunteers help the hospital staff minimize the chance of cross contamination among patients.
Volunteer Amy again brought homemade desserts to serve. Her culinary expertise is appreciated by everyone. Volunteers Mary Ann and Paul brought candy for the families and Wounded Warriors. Karen Jeffries from Veterans Moving Forward was there with two service dogs Clyde and Eden. Karen told PHHS volunteers that she hears people saying wonderful things about our dinners when she is out and about with the dogs.
After the Purple Heart families had been served, staff members were invited to get something to eat. These hard working medical people are grateful for the brief respite during their long and busy shifts of duty.
The PHHS volunteers will next be serving suppers at WRNMMC in Bethesda on November 27th.
- Reported by Peggy Densford
November 27th Dinner:
Purple Heart Hero Support served dinner at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda on Sunday, November 27. Traffic is a big deal in the DC area, so we were thankful that the Thanksgiving traffic in the Washington area was not too terribly bad, as volunteers Barbara, Mary Jane, Bob, Cheryl, Diane, Rene, and Susan arrived from various parts of Maryland and Virginia to serve dinner to wounded warrior family members, patients, and medical staff in the conference room of 4C. Accompanying the burritos, salad, chips, and salsa from California Tortilla were a variety of sodas, water, cider, and lemonade supplied by our volunteers, along with pretzels, Oreos with two kinds of filling, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. Beautiful orange clementines rounded out the menu. Thank you to all our volunteers who bring these touches of home with them to the hospital each time. We needed a separate dessert table for all the goodies.
When we received our delivery from California Tortilla—who must be among the world’s most dependable of restaurants, because they never fail us—we wheeled the boxes up to the fourth floor using the new cart that Marine Parents, Inc., has donated to the Marine Corps Liaison Office. It is a big improvement over the old cart with the flat tire that we used to struggle with. We had a momentary glitch involving the dinner room being locked and security needing to arrive to unlock it. They had to (comically) prop it open with a ten-pound free weight and tape the door latch with masking tape to keep it from locking again. After that minor excitement, the rest of the evening went smoothly.
We have lots of excellent supplies from Marine Parents. They include attractive new signs that clearly identify who we are; more maroon aprons for our growing group of volunteers; neon green tote bags filled with journals, business card holders, and some edible treats; resource books; and a Lucite stand to display the Operation PAL brochures. The new Purple Heart lapel pins and car decals were especially popular. We had one preschooler come in (with his mom), and he received a coloring book. Other families were interested in the inspirational DVDs from the “War and the Family” series that we received from headquarters. It is hard to convey in words the gratefulness of the family members who are just happy to be remembered by fellow Marine parents who care about them and their beloved wounded warriors.
As the evening began and we laid out the trays of burritos—150 of them—I am sure we all wondered, will we be able to use all this food? Two hours later, we were left with ten lonely burritos. We left them in the pantry along with extra salad and other fixings, and as we walked down the hall we saw a new family and the evening shift of staff arriving, ready to scarf up the leftovers.
We sent nine meals up to the Traumatic Brain Injury ward on 7E and sent five meals down to families staying with their wounded warriors in the Critical Care Unit on the third floor. A couple of patients came in on crutches. One said that carrying his meal was good practice for his balance. A few family members from the CCU came up to get their dinner in our room and stayed in the comfortable seats to relax a little in a different setting. We learned that one of the visitors is an Army dad and former Marine who lives in the area. We also met family members from the west coast and Midwest. Plans are underway to give a baby shower to expectant mother whose husband is a patient on the floor. She is here on the east coast, far from family and friends, and due to have a baby within a month. We plan to help her with some seasonal baby items that she hasn’t had a chance to acquire.
We are still dealing with the pros and cons of the new merger. With new management come new regulations that have temporarily kept our friends with the therapy dogs from partnering with us, but we expect that to be dealt with shortly. But on the plus side, the renovated wing is beautiful, and there is an air of calm and serenity on 4E that must be very beneficial to the patients. One mother who has been at the hospital about ten days said she couldn’t say enough about how well everyone at the hospital has treated them.
The medical staff that used to work at Walter Reed is especially grateful for our including them in our dinner on Sundays, because they are used to the old Walter Reed, where there was no shortage of good food available on the weekends. One CCU nurse said that they are very grateful to us for bringing in nutritious food, because otherwise “we work hungry.” A family member said “We feel so blessed by what you do.” It’s hard to know what to say when we know that really, it is we who are blessed by the sacrifices of the wounded and their families.
West Coast Wounded Warriors
November 10th Dinner:
Gary Clausen’s, Continental Catering and Isabelle’s Bakery does it again!
Wounded Marines were again treated to double delights for the evening’s main course and dessert. Continental Catering served a delicious entrée consisting of chicken stuffed with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and pepper jack cheese and a side course of green beans almandine. The approximately 150 Marines and Navy Corpsmen who attended the dinner clearly demonstrated their liking for that “fancy chicken”. A record number of “seconds” were served, which clearly pleased the owner, Gary Clausen. His ultimate compliment, however, was that by dinner’s end not a single piece of chicken remained.
Topping off the dinner was a special dessert prepared by Isabelle’s Bakery in Encinitas. Isabelle’s multi layered flat cake with the “world’s greatest” frosting and filled with layers of unbelievably tasty, rich creams, chocolates and custards have quickly become a Liberty Center favorite (Note to all the Wounded Warrior Mom’s: This flat cake, prepared by one of France’s best trained bakers, may be replacing your homemade apple pie as your son’s favorite dessert. What can I say …c’est la vie! ). Atop the cake, decorated in bold red, white and blue lettering read “Happy Birthday Marines”. The traditional “Marine Corps” birthday cake cutting ceremony (the oldest and youngest Marines present perform the cutting honors) received loud cheering and singing of Happy Birthday from all the Wounded Warriors. The commanding officer of the Wounded Warrior company at the Liberty Center barracks, Lt. Colonel Tim Bleidistel, USMC was in attendance and joined in the celebration, which was a “warm up” for the real birthday on November 12.
Men with girl friends and wives at this dinner excitedly discussed the upcoming, formal Marine Corps Ball on November 12 and the Wounded Warrior Ball which occurred a few days later. There is no doubt that the United States Marine Corps knows how to celebrate and honor special dates.