Elks Fund Raiser Supports Wounded Warriors
The assistance of returning wounded warriors and their families took center stage this past weekend in Southern Pines.
A roomful of people gathered to dine at the Southern Pines Elks Lodge last Saturday for the club's first charity dinner to benefit wounded warriors.
All told, this first event raised $3,213 to help wounded warriors and their families.
Andrea Wynn, chairman of the club's Wounded Warrior Committee, greeted the crowd with an explanation that she was not only an Elk, but a military wife and proud descendant from a family line of warriors herself.-
"I am the wife of a Navy SEAL, great niece of an Air Force pilot, and stepdaughter of a Marine," Wynn said, to applause.
On June 14, 2012, the committee presented now-retired Sgt. Daryl Shaw and his wife, Lucinda, with a check for $2,000 from the Elks National Grant.
Shaw is a 17-year veteran who suffers from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He will undergo two back surgeries and two knee surgeries in the coming months."
The money paid the family's rent and provided other support. Wynn asked all veterans and active military to stand, and they were applauded. She introduced the first of two speakers, Army Maj. Marshall Tway, of the 18th Airborne Corps.
"Maj. Tway has deployed three times - once each to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan - and commanded Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment for 11 months during combat operations in the Baghdad area," Wynn said.
Tway said he was just a regular guy, not Special Forces or even a Ranger.
"I came through three deployments physically unscathed, though I have to admit combat will change a person permanently," he said.
Tway settled on three topics: the type of people who are the nation's warriors, their families, and some of the projects of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg.
"Our warriors are truly the cream of the crop," Tway said. "If you do not study hard in school you go to college, because the military will not take you. College is much easier to get into. I have seen these warriors continue with the mission after losing everything they own in a hangar fire, operating for almost two months under conditions that should have rendered the unit combat-ineffective - all with no complaint."
Left behind, spouses get to see their service member two weeks out of every yearlong deployment, Tway said. In those precious times they avoid the hard subjects in an effort to help their service member decompress.
"There is no R&R for spouses at home," Tway said. "While our warriors are deployed, wives and husbands become Mom and Dad, friend and disciplinarian, tutor and chore giver or doer, caretaker and coach, taxi driver, handyman and home psychologist.
"There is no 'wait until your father gets home' or 'Mom will give you that girl talk.' I believe that the true heroes of the last 10 years have been our military families.
"They are the backbone and support network for our warriors - wounded or otherwise - and stand ready to receive you back with open arms whether we come home with our shields or upon them. We owe it to them, especially the families of wounded warriors, to do all we can to support and care for them - or words such as 'grateful nation' shall ring hollow in their hearts."
Tway described the work of the battalion at Fort Bragg that cares for some 475 wounded service men and women and about 750 family members - its mission to help coordinate return to active duty or transition to civilian life.
He introduced the other speaker for the event, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Bob Springer. Springer is the founding executive director and later vice-chairman of the board of the Air Force Memorial.
He spoke of one wounded warrior, blinded in service, who nevertheless took up golf and became quite a good player despite his handicap. He could feel the wind, sense the turf of the greens as he walked. Once, when another player hooked his drive off to the side, the blind wounded warrior told the man, "That's the worst shot I ever heard."
"It is that kind of recovery that is marvelous," Springer said. "Two major conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not the only places where we have service today. I get a hang-up over people saying we are involved in two wars. We fought World War I and World War II, and should call this WWT - World War on Terror, because we are involved all around the globe. I look back on this as an opportunity for us here to do something for the wounded warriors who are coming back.
"Americans have and are supporting our military in a fashion unlike any time in my adult life time. My war was Vietnam and we weren't greeted at the airport with applause and handshakes. We weren't welcomed home when we came back. Times have changed.
"We have been at war a long, long time over in that part of the world," he said of the Middle East. "But we have so many wounded warriors today because we have the greatest life-saving rate in the history of warfare. The survivability today of men and women in combat is 96 percent."
That means more live today who would have died in other wars. But it also means more of them return with traumatic injuries and post-traumatic stress.
"That is an unprecedented rate of survivability from the battlefield," Springer said. "All of you have friends you are associated with. Tell them of this venture, and encourage them to support this financially as well. No gift is too small."
He told of a military widow who wrote to say her late veteran husband would have wanted her to send some donation to help build the Air Force Memorial, and so she was sending what she could.
"It was a crumpled five dollar bill," he said. "It stuck with me. It was from the widow of an Air Force tech sergeant, a five-striper. A crumpled five-dollar bill with a little note saying, 'This is all I have to send, but I know my husband would have wanted me to do it.' No gift is too small. Let us help make this venture an incredible success."
He thanked everyone for coming.
"I understand the need for charity," the general said. "I lived in a home for fatherless boys until the day I signed up for the United States Air Force. Somebody was taking care of me. Thank you."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story