East Coast Wounded Heroes
PHHS East — Dinner on April 29, 2012
The East coast Purple Heart Hero Support volunteers had a wonderful surprise on April 29th when they arrived at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda. Our food supplier was right on time as always, but out of the van also emerged Alan Cohen, co-founder of the California Tortilla restaurants. Alan helped deliver the meals and stayed to meet our Purple Heart families.
The volunteers set up a buffet and a sitting area in the 4th floor conference room. In addition to the popular PHHS tote bags and Wounded Warrior Handbooks, volunteers created a display of more of the donated puzzle books and markers sent to WRNMMC by the women of the Patuxent Presbyterian Church in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Volunteers also brought drinks, homemade goodies and Girl Scout cookies.
Volunteer Rene went to the 3rd floor ICU unit to check for families in the waiting room. She came back with one set of parents and orders for suppers for more families who feared being too far away from their wounded heroes. The volunteers put together meals for the families, and Rene delivered them back to the ICU waiting rooms.
The volunteers in the conference room quickly got busy feeding family members. Many corpsmen came in to ask if they could take trays to their patients. A young wife pushing her husband in a wheelchair came into the conference room to get a dinner. Volunteer Peggy went out into the hall to keep her patient husband company. When she asked him if he would like something to eat he shook his head ruefully, saying, “No thank you ma’am. I have to wait until my stomach settles down before I can take solid foods.” Another wife came in and was introduced to Alan. The wife told Alan how much the suppers meant to the Purple Heart families. She said Sundays were especially difficult to find good meals. She went on to tell Alan how much she enjoyed the burritos and salad.
Rene took Alan up to the 7th floor Traumatic Brain Injury ward with trays of food for the many families visiting there. Alan was warmly received by the families and staff on the ward. Everyone wanted his or her pictures taken with him.
A Purple Heart mother and aunt came in to get supper. The mom told the volunteers about her brave son who suffered a serious head injury in an Army helicopter accident in Afghanistan. She is a strong believer in the power of prayer and has enlisted everyone she meets to pray for her son and for all the wounded heroes. His eyes are open and he is moving his hands. She told the volunteers, “I always said he had more brains than he needed, so I guess he still has enough.” The volunteers applauded her spirit and faith.
A man with five children in tow came into the conference room. He was very grateful to find supper for his hungry brood. He also appreciated that the volunteers created a sitting area where his family could enjoy their supper.
Volunteers distributed eleven tote bags and eight Wounded Warrior Handbooks. We are now giving out the second edition of the handbook (2012). One of the nurses requested a copy to keep at the nursing station because it has so much useful information. One of the Army wounded heroes’ wives took the book and was reading through it back in his room, and her husband wanted to make sure that it pertained to Army as well as Marines. They were very grateful to receive it.
Volunteer Rene attended the Walter Reed Society brunch that morning to present them with a plaque of appreciation for their support of our PHHS meals program. She had prepared a Power Point presentation of the work that PHHS volunteers do during their visits to the WRNMMC at Bethesda.
The next supper will be on May 6, and a special PHHS supper is being planned for Mother’s Day, May 13.
East Coast Wounded Heroes
PHHS East — Dinner on April 15, 2012
On April 15, 2012 the MarineParents’ Purple Heart Hero Support volunteers served supper to Wounded Heroes and their families at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland. Food was delivered by California Tortilla. The menu included burritos, chips, salsa, guacamole and salad. The volunteers brought drinks and homemade desserts.
Volunteers Joe and Peggy arrived early with a new cart. They (mostly Joe) assembled the cart in the hospital’s lobby. It was finished just in time to carry the large boxes of food from California Tortilla.
The volunteers arranged a cozy buffet and sitting area in the 4th floor conference room. The women of the Patuxent Presbyterian Church in St. Mary’s County, Maryland had collected puzzle books, pens and markers to help Wounded Heroes and their families to pass the time at the hospital. Volunteer Mary Jane created a beautiful display of the items. Desserts were set up on the new cart.
Volunteer Barbara stayed busy visiting the 4th and 5th floors to make sure everyone knew about the suppers. Time and again she came back to the conference room to get trays of food to take to patients’ rooms. She also took food to the ICU for the families there.
Volunteer Amy, the sister of a Marine, was pleased to see two of her brother’s friends from 29 Fox Company on the floor recuperating from their wounds. One of the young men came into the conference room with his mother to get burritos and salads for dinner. The other Marine had been wounded when he used his body to shield a fellow Marine from a grenade blast. The Marines of his company are lobbying for him to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Another wounded hero came into the conference room on crutches with his wife. When his wife noticed the table of puzzle books, she urged her husband to choose one. She explained to the volunteers that her husband has sustained brain damage from his wound and was having difficulty with some cognitive skills. Together they picked out a book entitled Brain Games. The wounded hero asked his wife to leaf through the book. He pointed out that there were lots of different kinds of exercises in that book, including reading retention passages. He said, “Get that book, because I scored low on my memory tests too.” He came over to a near-by volunteer and took her hand and kissed it. He said, “Thank so much for bringing all of this (food, treats and puzzles); you have no idea what it means to me.”
Towards the end of the evening, grateful staff came to get food to see them through their long evening shift. All the burritos and guacamole were eaten up. The extra salads and chips were left in the 4th floor’s “nutrition center” for late-night snacking by the Wounded Heroes, their families and staff. The next PHHS supper will be April 29 at 5pm. The PHHS support volunteers continue to be grateful for the contributions they receive towards the meals from the Walter Reed Society.