AFRC’s first lady, wing aerial porter inspired to rally clothing drives
By Capt. Tim Smith, 459th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published February 12, 2007
Andrews Air Force Base, Md. -- Any Airman, whether a high-ranking Pentagon official or a fresh-out-of-basic unit level troop, can be a leader. Senior Airman Elisa Rosemond, 69th Aerial Port Squadron, ranks closer to the latter, but her leadership qualities significantly enhanced the lives of many American patients at an overseas hospital.
Inspired by a happenstance Army hospital visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany while serving on a tour of duty there, Airman Rosemond set out to help wounded troops that reside in LRMC by initiating a clothing drive within her squadron.
"The four of us who went to the hospital were touched," Airman Rosemond said. "We wanted to help them, even with the little stuff."
Airman Rosemond's initiative, with the support of 69th APS, will help bolster LMRC's Chaplain's Clothing Closet. This ministry began in October 2002 at the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom and it strives to meet the needs of wounded troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"When they come in, they only have what's on their backs, and nothing else," said Airman Rosemond.
The program provides the hospitalized troops there with new sweat suits, underwear, black duffle bags, athletic shoes, toiletries, sundries, winter coats (in season), phone cards, and other helpful items for all wounded soldiers. Airman Rosemond said even DVDs have been donated.
Mrs. Jan Bradley, wife of Air Force Reserve Command commander, Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, is also aware of the wounded troops needs at LRMC. "I can't stand to be cold. These guys are ambulatory, and they're cold. I mean they're provided with the basics, but they need more."
Mrs. Bradley made sure they got more. She and other members of the volunteer organization, Sew Much Comfort, collected donated items such as pillows, parkas, blankets, gloves, heavy-duty sweats and more. "The pillows and the blankets were the main things they asked for."
Sew Much Comfort provides custom-made adaptive clothing to wounded troops, but this time they went above and beyond their normal call of duty and got donations from Chugach, a housing contractor at Bolling Air Force Base, DC, The American Red Cross at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and even a discount on items at Bed Bath and Beyond.
"We had a lot of wonderful people open their hearts," said Mrs. Bradley. "No one said 'No.'" And as a result, she almost ran out of room to store all of the donations until they were ready to be sent overseas.
The items given to Airman Rosemond's and Mrs. Bradley's cause were donated to the LRMC Chaplain's Clothing Closet through the Air Force Chaplain's Wounded Warrior program.
For Airman Rosemond, this endeavor is very personal. Her younger brother is serving in Iraq right now and so is her close friend's husband. Airman Rosemond understands the grim possibilities of war. So her efforts and the efforts of Mrs. Bradley and others could end up helping someone they know.
Airman Rosemond may again come face-to-face with the troops at LRMC. She assisted with the upload of the cargo heading there, and she will accompany the cargo to Germany, where she will also assist with downloading the donated goods.
"I hope we continue it, and it's not just a one-time thing," said Airman Rosemond. "We have soldiers going over there everyday."