From the Eyes of a First-Time Volunteer
Last month, my eyes were opened for the first time in my “career” as a Marine Mom. I met some of our “Hidden Heroes” while attending the Marine Parents National Conference at the Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego, California. We were there to tour the hospital and to spend an evening helping to serve a meal at the hospital's Liberty Center as part of Marine Parents' Purple Heart Hero Support™ program.
I came away from the day and evening there with a renewed sense of pride in our military and a better understanding of some of the sacrifices made by those who are serving. Our Hidden Heroes are the young men and women who may not always be seen at homecomings or at parades; instead they are rehabilitating at our medical centers across the nation. They need and deserve our recognition and our support.
There is something very humbling about meeting Marines, as well as other servicemen, who are stationed at Balboa. Some of our young men and women have suffered injuries such as lost or broken limbs while others are receiving treatment for less noticeable scars of war such as TBI (traumatic brain injury) or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), yet most of our Wounded Warriors seemed genuinely happy to spend the evening eating tacos, burritos, cheese, and nachos along with a variety of delicious desserts prepared by local volunteers. There was a lot of laughter and story-telling going on between volunteers and attendees. Our Purple Heart Hero Support™ dinners bring a slice of “home” and family to the Liberty Center. Even some of the more reserved young men and women seemed to be drawn into conversations.
One of the things that surprised me the most was how long some of our warriors had been undergoing rehabilitation at Balboa. I met several warriors who had been there for over a year, and spoke with one young man who had been at Balboa for 13 months while his wife and two young daughters lived back in Hawaii. I think the rest of us can sometimes forget the extreme sacrifices that our military members and their families make for our country.
Volunteering at the Purple Heart Hero Support™ dinner and meeting some of our Wounded Warriors was an experience that will stick with me. I left the evening wishing I lived closer and could be there for every single dinner. I have even more gratitude for our very dedicated, compassionate Purple Heart Hero Support™ volunteers who spend a lot of time and energy organizing these events. The stories behind our Wounded Warriors and their rehabilitaions are inspirational and I was honored to hear some of them. I am thankful that Marine Parents has made Purple Heart Hero Support™ meals such a Outreach Programs priority. These dinners most likely provide healing we cannot even begin to see.
Director: Outreach Programs