Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ties that Bind

I was recently contacted by a wife of a wounded warrior Soldiers’ Angels supported in the past and it got me to thinking—which always puts fear into my teams hearts. J

The Wounded Programs provide support to the wounded/injured/ill warrior and his/her family. Yes, it is hard meeting with and talking to the warrior, but most grab hold of the statement below and push on. This statement is frequently seen on the doors to the warriors hospital rooms.

ATTENTION: To all who enter here; if you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received, I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.”

This is what our warriors keep in their hearts, minds and souls. So, we provide the support, encouragement and share with them in reaching the various goals they’ve set for themselves. Once medically retired, these warriors move on with their lives and we very rarely hear from them again… it should be.

It is the support provided to the families of our warriors—the wives, moms, husbands, dads—that prove to be long-lasting. The families put on a brave front with their warrior, not showing the heart-ache, confusion and sense of being overwhelmed that overcomes them while the warrior is fighting his/her own battle of recovery. They must remain strong in front of the warrior.

Many of the wives, moms, husbands and dads keep in touch us. I think the emotions they shared with the support person/people--the fears, the hopes, the tears, the confusion, the joy of the warrior attaining a goal—and knowing that they COULD share those emotions—creates a bond. Knowing they could voice the fears, knowing they could cry, knowing they could be angry, knowing they could be what they needed to be and letting go of the “strong face” they keep up for their loved one means so much.

Many, many times our shoulders have been used to catch the tears of a family member. They’ve cried on our shoulders, and we’ve cried with them, and we are now considered a friend. Our visits and phone calls are looked forward to by them.

Frequently, we make a special visit or phone call to the care-taker, knowing that they need the chance to talk and vent. This type of support is on-going and will continue long after the warrior is released. These are the ties that bind.

God Bless our warriors and their families.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Chester New Jersey Lion's Club Oktoberfest

Lynda and I were honored to represent Soldiers' Angels at the Chester Lion's Club Oktoberfest on Sunday. The weather was beautiful here in New Jersey on Sunday. The sun was shining all day. Record breaking crowds attended this event, lining up for the wonderful German food and music....Did I mention the German beer?

The Chester Lion's were so welcoming to us. We can not say "thank you" enough for all they did. Mike R--you rock. Thank you.

We were given a table front and center. We had displayed a VALOUR-IT Laptop and bag, a Transitional Backpack, Blankets of Hope, a photo album of some past events and some brochures. We were giving away the Soldiers' Angels wristbands for a thank you card. Write a thank you card to a service member--get a free wristband. One of the most memorable was from a former Officer of the Russian Army.

We met so many people and were able to talk to them about Soldiers' Angels and what we do to support our warriors--both deployed and here at home. I am hoping that we recruited a good number to our ranks of Angels. We listened as well--to the mom whose son just returned from Iraq and had tears in her eyes talking to us. We listened to a wife whose husband just went over in August for his third deployment--she was strong, because her 12 year old son was with her, but we knew she needed to talk. We listened.

It was a wonderful day of "angeling". Lynda and I are already planning for next year!

Follow this link for a another write-up on the event.