Many Ways To Help Lend A Hand
By Brian M. Rafferty
Many of us are lucky, and we have not been directly touched by the
Queens deaths in this war. We may have not yet lost a brother, sister,
parent or child ourselves, but we also cannot help but feel a twinge
of sadness – or even the full-scale horror that can come –
when learning the news of the death of a person who has chosen a military
Despite anyone’s political or ideological views, losing a person
from your neighborhood to this war is a tragedy even if you had never
met the person in his or her lifetime. You may see the picture in
the paper, or see the newly named street, and wonder what, if anything,
you can do to help.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get involved.
Fallenheroesmemorial.com is a searchable online resource for posting
comments, mostly to the families of fallen service members. The site
breaks up the soldiers into Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation
Iraqi Freedom, and content seems to be mostly somber in tone. It is
a great place to speak you peace about someone whom you may have never
met, or to offer a word to the family you may not otherwise feel comfortable
Soldiersangels.org was started when Patti Patton-Bader had received
word from her son that for us much as he appreciated getting mail
and packages from home while serving in Iraq, he felt bad because
there were many fellow soldiers who we not as fortunate, barely ever
receiving mail and never getting packages.
Patti took it upon herself to start getting packages out to as many
soldiers as possible, and the organization was born. Today, tens of
thousands of care packages and hundreds of thousands of letters have
been sent to troops fighting overseas, including new Kevlar body armor
that many soldiers fighting in Iraq have been without.
People who sign in to the group’s Web site can either choose
a soldier to adopt or can suggest one who needs adoption. From that
point, if you choose to adopt, you commit to sending one card or letter
a week and one care package a month. Participants can be creative
with the packages they send, or they can log on to angelsstore.org
and buy pre-made packages filled with nutritious and fund snacks,
entertainment, magazines and more.
Anysoldier.com is similar in concept to soldiersangels.com, but rather
than picking an individual to assist, packages are sent to “Any
Soldier” and are randomly distributed – an idea started
by a sergeant serving in Iraq who hails from Maryland. Technically,
you are sending to a soldier who signs up, but that soldier in turn
donates the package and all it contents to a soldier o his or her
choosing. Some of the packages available on their sister site, treatanysoldier.com,
include entertainment packs (with music and DVDs), cookie packs and
even feminine hygiene packs.
At noanie.com you can take part in Operation Band-Aid, a special project
designed to give aid and relief to injured soldiers who are flown
out of harm’s way and to the U.S. military hospital in Landsthul,
Germany. Specific donations they are seeking include sweat suits (to
lounge in the hospital comfortably), CDs and DVDs, international calling
cards and, oddly enough, Burger King coupons – there’s
one not too far from the hospital.
For many soldiers put in harm’s way, they may be fortunate enough
to leave the theater of operations with their lives, though not necessarily
For them, the Wounded Warrior Project exists to help soldiers who
have sustained massive damage – including the loss of limbs
or certain senses – readapt to being part of society. To learn
more call (877) TEAM-WWP or go to woundedwarriorproject.org.
Warriors Test Queens Waves
The dense crowd of smiling young men at the Rockaway beachside clubhouse
seemed no different than any other pack of bathing-suit wearing, broadchested
fellows underneath the summer sun. Fashionable sunglasses rested on
their faces. Sun block was applied to their freckled noses. Barbecued
hot dogs and cold bottles of soda were in their hands.
soldier wounded in Iraq gets fitted for waterskis.
prosthetic legs, this ex-soldier is getting help from the
Wounded Warrior Project.
On closer look, it was plain to see that these youthful men were riddled
with life-altering battle scars and injuries that could easily break
one’s spirit. Though they may have had amputated limbs or prosthetic
legs, they were strapping on life preservers and getting ready to
ride the waves as part of the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association’s
2006 Scuba Tour, in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Program.
The tour, which took place July 6-9, 2006, gave soldiers and Marines
injured in Iraq a chance to learn how to water-ski, scuba dive and,
more importantly, to meet other soldiers wounded in battle.
“It helps because you see that you have a family here, soldiers
that have been through the same experiences,” said Leslie Smith,
a 12-year Army veteran who lost her leg and part of her vision after
contracting a rare blood disorder while in Bosnia. Watching as volunteers
and family members helped several soldiers onto a sailboat, Smith
smiled. “To see that people support you to this degree makes
you feel really good about your service.”
Ohio-born John Borders, 33, lost one leg and four inches of tibia
from his other leg in January when a roadside bomb exploded underneath
the vehicle in which he was riding. Borders, who has endured dozens
of surgeries since the explosion, is still going though arduous physical
therapy sessions. He said it is due to the spiritual strength of other
amputees that he has been able to keep strong and continue healing.
“It’s unreal [to see] that anyone can just get up on skis,”
he said, watching a soldier secure his water-ski gear. “The
Wounded Warrior program does so much for us; it’s amazing.”
Retired City firefighters and Disabled Sports USA volunteers trained
the young soldiers in various waterfront activities, preparing them
for a life full of activity and progress. On Friday, the program’s
first full day of activities, none of the young men allowed their
missing or prosthetic limbs to impede their recreation, as they happily
threw on scuba masks or allowed volunteers to strap them into water
skis. Those who wanted to enjoy the hot sun and calm water simply
enjoyed sprawling out on the sailboats.
With their family members, friends and supporters encouraging them
to participate both physically and spiritually, the soldiers didn’t
hesitate to get involved. If they couldn’t physically participate,
they watched from the sand and cheered, motivating each other to carry
Though some soldiers were looking forward to testing the waters, others
were just happy to be out of the hospital. “I’ve been
hospitalized for so long, it’s great to be out here,”
said 23-year-old Pete Engel of Pennsylvania, who was shot in Iraq
in late March and is now wheelchair-bound. “Boredom is the worst
thing there is.”