Operation Santa Claus Cheers Wounded Warriors
12/17/2010 - As part of the APWU’s annual Operation Santa Claus, union officers and staff stopped by the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and the Mologne House on Dec. 15 to spread holiday cheer to wounded U.S. service members. During the visit, more than 450 packages containing DVDs, puzzle books, stationary, postage, sparkling cider and gift cards for fast-food favorites were distributed, thanks to the generosity of APWU members.
Family members staying at the medical facilities to provide support to loved ones during their recuperation were also among the recipients. Additionally, to offer comfort to visiting children, every young child received a new, warm and fuzzy stuffed animal; teens received a DVD to help them pass the time.
“It is a very humbling and gratifying experience to be able to thank our country’s warriors and their families on behalf of our members,” said Human Relations Director Sue Carney. “All the young men we spoke with were wounded in Afghanistan by improvised explosive devices. Their wounds are beyond what anyone should have to endure: lost limbs, traumatic brain injuries, burns, and blindness. Despite their life-changing injuries, they express no regrets; they have none — it was their duty, and they were so very thankful for the token gifts we left with them.”
Clerk Craft Director Rob Strunk said, “These young men and women serve so proudly in spite of their wounds. One young soldier who lost his legs and suffered severe burns on his back thanked us for bringing him the small gifts.
“I will never forget the young man who was blinded in an explosion who asked for some chocolate ice cream, or the Army Ranger who asked for fruit because he wanted to stay in shape — even though he had lost a foot. Of course, we didn’t have ice cream or fresh fruit with us, but we got some to them in the days that followed.
“I will always remember the young man who wanted his picture taken with me showing off his Purple Heart. He had lost a hand.
“And I won’t forget the Viet Nam veteran and his wife who shared some stories about his time — and mine — in Viet Nam. Before I left his room I reached out my hand and said, ‘Thank you for your service, soldier,’ and he thanked me for mine. Only then did I notice that I had just called a two-star general ‘soldier.’
“Our members did a great thing through their donations to Operation Santa Claus. Christmas will be a little brighter for these soldiers,” Strunk said. “Sue Carney, President Cliff Guffey, and the Human Relations Department make it happen with grace and dignity.
“Thank a veteran this holiday season. We will all be better for it.”