On the morning of May 12, 2016, Dwight Zahringer of Trademark Productions, Mark Wierziewski, Dave LaMontaine, POAM Executive Board Member, and Jim Tignanelli, POAM President, visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
8 backpacks were given to wounded veterans. Each backpack contained a Kindle Fire HD, an electric shaver, t-shirts, gym shorts, chap stick, personal hygiene items, $300 in gift cards, wireless headsets and an iPod shuffle.
All the gifts were either generously donated in whole or were purchased with cash donations received through the POAM website. During the visit, we met some wonderful young people and all were extremely grateful and emotional upon receiving their backpack and necessary items. Here are some of their stories.
One young man who had served in Afghanistan was recovering from shrapnel in his leg at Walter Reed after an RPG hit 3 feet away from him, flew about 30 yards, and exploded.
“I felt the heat from the RPG fly past my leg, right before the explosion.”
We had a few beautiful homemade lap blankets to hand out. One man, sitting in a wheelchair, was so excited about the blanket and asked for one immediately. When we handed it to him, he unfolded it with a huge smile and covered his legs.
It is most often the small things, the things that are heartfelt, that make the biggest impact on these men.
You’re Not Alone
Walking through the hallway, we came across a young gentleman who was in outpatient. He had previously been injured and stayed at Walter Reed, but was undergoing physical therapy and sitting in the waiting area. We asked if he was a serviceman and when he replied yes, we handed him a bag and thanked him for his service. He was so shocked he began to become emotional as tears welled up in his eyes.
These men often feel like they’re alone in their suffering and in their recovery. It is in these moments that we realize how much of an impact these backpacks and your donations have on our brave soldiers.
We handed an iPod shuffle to a young gentleman. Yes, we know that compared to some of the technology out there, it isn’t state-of-the-art… but this young man was shocked, in awe, and totally grateful. You see, while he was at war a bullet had struck his own iPod shuffle that happened to be sitting in his pocket. The iPod shuffle saved his life, but the bullet destroyed the shuffle and he lost over 3,000 songs. Now, he could get all of his songs back – songs that had helped him pass the time while he was overseas, and songs that had saved his life.
Toys for Children
Children spend hours in the waiting rooms, waiting for their mom or dad to come back from therapy or to get well enough to come home. There isn’t a great selection of toys in the waiting rooms for the children.
We were able to go to the waiting rooms on the 4th and 5th floors and stuff the shelves full with toys like Thomas the Train, pull-string motorbikes, stuffed animals, and many more!