West Coast Wounded Warriors
PHHS West — Dinner on January 26, 2012
Thursday is a day I look forward to all week because I know I'm going to be seeing all of my Marines that I love so dearly. As we were getting ready to leave our home to pick up the food, I received a phone call from Sergeant Major (Sgt Mjr) Logan, who is the Sergeant Major of Recruitment for USMC stationed at Quantico. Whenever he's in town, he loves coming to our dinners. A few months ago he texted me and asked if it was okay if he brought his “CG.” I said of course! I had no clue that a “CG” was a Commanding General until I asked my Marine husband! The General, of course, brought his staff, and all were in civvies.
He asked me this time if he could bring some of his Sgt Mjrs, to which I said absolutely! As we were setting up the Liberty Center, in he comes, with nine other Sgt Mjrs visiting from across the country! Incredible! They had heard how special these dinners were and wanted to be there. They came in their civvies so they could talk to the guys without rank hindering them. They all insisted upon taking turns serving, and when they weren't serving they went around the room talking to our wounded heroes. All of them at some point in the evening went to visit our only Marine in the hospital that night. I took Sgt Mjr Logan and four of his men over to meet Jason, whose face lit up when they all walked in. The visits from all the Sgt Mjrs were some of the best medicine he could have been given. I love this young man, and heard many stories afterward from the Sgt Mjr of his valor at Bethesda in encouraging other Marines.
We served: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cole Slaw and Barbeque Beans. I had ordered enough from the KFC on University Ave in San Diego for 150 of our brave heroes. I love working with this KFC, as the manager says, she makes sure only the best chicken is chosen for our boys and there is a lot of love put into the making of our order knowing where it will go. She says that her employees get a great deal of satisfaction knowing our heroes will be enjoying the meal they prepared. Thank you Jen, you are amazing!
So many Wounded Heroes had come down to the dinner that by the time they were all served there was not even one biscuit left! Amazing! I felt bad that we didn't have anything but desserts left to feed the Sgt Mjrs, but I can tell you that none of them cared, we were all full from Marine Corps Spirit that filled us that evening. So much love and laughter, sharing and caring. It was an awesome evening and we look forward to having them all come visit our heroes again. When I left that evening at 7 PM to make the long drive home, they were still there talking to several Marines and Corpsman. Needless to say, we'll order more of everything next time!
Sam, one of the Sgt Mjrs, said that what we had going with our Marines was something very special. He said we didn't just serve meals, he could see the way the Marines loved our volunteers and that we had formed bonds with each one of them. He said that we didn't just serve meals, we served hope and love and a touch of home. He said he would be visiting San Diego again in six weeks, that he would be sure to schedule Thursday at the Liberty Center, and that he couldn't wait to attend again. We volunteers look forward to having them again, what a great night!
I thank God every day for the wonderful volunteers we have working with our Purple Heart Hero Support. Most have been with us for over four years, they are the best! We are so blessed to have MarineParents.com supporting our dinners! I'm so thankful to all of you and your generous donations that help make this magic happen every Thursday down at the Liberty Center. We are serving 150+ every Thursday and as you know the price of everything keeps going up. If you would like to make a donation to help feed our wounded Marines, this is the link:
Mgr, Purple Heart Hero Support W Coast
A side note:
I won't talk about Jason's injuries only to say he is one of the most seriously injured Marines I have ever met. I had met him at Bethesda last June, he'd been injured in April. He was transferred over to Balboa in November, and by December they had found a home for him and his family. Curt and I were so blessed to be able to set the Christmas tree up and decorate his home for the Holidays. As we were trying to get the tree set up I saw that Jason was watching with a puzzled expression. I said, oh don't worry Jason, it will be beautiful by the time we decorate it! He said, Joyce, you don't get it, I just can't believe after everything that has happened that I'm having a Christmas tree set up in my home and my little girls will be coming in tomorrow with all of this set up. I had to turn back to the tree so that he wouldn't see the tears... Please keep Jason and his family in your prayers, he has been through such tremendous hardships, but still manages to get through them all with honor and courage.
East Coast Wounded Warriors
PHHS East — Dinner on January 22, 2012
The East Coast Purple Heart Hero Support Volunteers served California Tortilla’s salad, chips and burritos to family members of Wounded Warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland. Many family members took food back to their Wounded Warriors. A few of our brave servicemen came to the 4th floor conference room to help themselves to the delicious food and to enjoy the festive atmosphere that always seems develop during our visits.
Volunteers Patti and Diane brought homemade desserts that were a big hit with everyone. Patti made the long trip to the hospital just to drop off her desserts and a case of bottled water. The other volunteers brought a selection of soft drinks and fruit. Volunteers Peggy and Joe brought brain teaser puzzles to give away. Rene brought the ever popular MarineParent tote bags, Wounded Warriors Handbooks and the business card cases. Diane took charge of making sure each Purple Heart Hero knew about the handouts and were told of the services offered by MarineParents.
Volunteer Rene went to the 7th floor traumatic brain injury ward to ask if the patients and staff would like the PHHS volunteers to bring them some supper. Much to everyone’s pleasure, a staff member returned to the 4th floor conference room with two ambulatory patients who were eager to help bring good food back to the ward. One of the Wounded Warriors appointed himself in charge of picking out a selection of the individually bagged cookies to take back to the 7th floor.
Rene also stopped by the CCU waiting room which was, sadly, unusually full of family members anxious to be nearby their seriously wounded soldiers and Marines. Several families came up the conference room to get a much needed respite from the strain of the vigil and enjoy a hot meal.
Volunteers Peggy and Barbara manned the buffet table assisting people with their choices. Some needed an extra pair of hands while they prepared extra plates of food to return to their Wounded Warrior’s room. Others needed help transporting the food back to the rooms.
At the end of the evening, hungry hospital staff members stopped by to grab a quick bite to eat. Peggy and Barbara urged the young corpsmen to help themselves to salad and other healthy foods. Many demurred saying they did not eat “rabbit food.” One corpsman responded that he was from the South so his vegetables were always fried!
A special thank you to St. Mary’s County, Maryland resident Marge Erickson who contacted MarineParents to offer the bulk of her very extensive personal library to PHHS to take to WRNMMC at Bethesda. Volunteers will be making several more trips to her home to pick up books to stock the family waiting room at the hospital.
PHHS volunteers return to WRNMMC at Bethesda on February 5th for a Super Bowl Supper extravaganza!
PHHS East — Dinner on January 8, 2012
PHHS East volunteers began our 2012 dinner season at Walter Reed Bethesda on a cold January evening with a gourmet touch — the utterly delicious cookies baked by our super-baker volunteer Amy. Her iced caramel apple cookies, chocolate malt ball cookies, and Twix cookies received rave reviews from our guests, even though many told us it was going against their New Year’s resolutions to eat them!
We were honored to serve our hot, fresh, California Tortilla dinner to many families of wounded warriors, to nurses and corpsmen getting food to take back to their patients in their rooms, and to a few of the patients themselves who were able to make it down the hall to our room, as well as to the dedicated staff of the hospital. Most of the 150 burritos, with chips, fresh salsa, hot sauce, crunchy salad with honey lime dressing, and clementines, along with a choice of sodas and juices, were consumed on the surgical recovery floor where we set up the dinner, but others were sent to the Traumatic Brain Injury unit and offered to families accompanying patients in the Critical Care Unit. We also delivered 15 burrito meals across the street to Mercy Hall, the outpatient residence, where they were immediately eyed by an alert resident as excellent late-night snack material.
We propped up a large sign on a chair outside the door of our room at 5:00 pm and instantly began to receive a stream of hungry visitors. The favorite flavors seem to be beef, fajita chicken, and Havana-style chicken. The last dinner was served shortly after 6:30 pm, at which point we wrapped and labeled the remaining chips, salsa, and salad and took them to the Nourishment Rooms on the floor. Many families new to Walter Reed Bethesda were grateful to receive a copy of the helpful Wounded Warrior resource book that we distribute, along with our new green PHHS tote bags and the journals and business card wallets that help them keep track of the many medical service providers and procedures. We also encouraged them to sign up their wounded loved one for Operation PAL by providing brochures with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes.
We got to ooh and aah at two beautiful babies, one recently born at Walter Reed Bethesda, and another newly arrived with mom and grandparents. We also were heartened to see the medical progress achieved by some of the patients who have been coming to the dinners over the past months. More than one parent told us of how much they appreciated the wonderful medical care provided by the doctors and other staff at Walter Reed Bethesda. Many families expressed their gratitude to Marine Parents for the dinners we provide. One family took a PHHS brochure and asked how they could make a donation to the organization.
Thank you to our dedicated PHHS volunteers here, and to the wonderful Marine Parents, Inc. office staff and board members who guide us and help make these dinners possible. We look forward to helping families sign up for the new Caregivers Group on the Marine Family Network website once it is fully up and running. The challenges they face, with a patient staying many months at Walter Reed Bethesda and often with younger family members and jobs waiting for them back at home elsewhere in the country, are truly daunting. We are in awe of the strength and courage of our American military families.
—Susan Kristol, PHHS East Manager