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Thu, Dec 01, 2005

Organization Flies High For Wounded Soldiers At Landstuhl

Flight Attendant Founded Aid Service After Visits To Hospital

Wounded servicemembers recuperating at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, look to doctors and nurses for their medical care. For creature comforts and a touch of 'home,' however, they look to the skies.

Terry Goforth is an American Airlines flight attendant who has been working troop transport flights -- military chartered flights on commercial airlines -- into Kuwait since March 2003. Regular layovers in Frankfurt, Germany, allowed her to visit Landstuhl and learn of the needs of the wounded servicemembers there.

As she witnessed the effects of war on the injured troops at the hospital, Goforth asked volunteers at Landstuhl what the patients might like her to bring from the United States during her weekly stopovers.

"They started giving us lists of things, and we started (bringing) things on our trips," she said.

At first, Goforth said, she solicited items needed in small quantities from people she knew, but occasionally even the hospital staff would request certain items in bulk. After turning to various corporations for help -- and learning she could do more if she incorporated her organization -- she did so a year and a half ago.

To date, the Dallas-based United States Wounded Soldier Foundation has donated about 12 tons of goods to the wounded patients at Landstuhl. The value of the donations so far -- both goods and cash -- is more than $500,000, Goforth said.

The Landstuhl "wish list" changes based on how many patients are at the hospital, and also depends on the time of year. Winter items such as coats, gloves, hats and fleece throw blankets have made the list as winter approaches, according to Goforth, but tennis shoes always have been in demand regardless of the season.

Along with the organization assistant directors Missy Bauer (left, below) and Patti Pearson (right)-- also American Airlines flight attendants -- Goforth (second from left, with soldier) is planning an event with a local radio station to raise funds to purchase tennis shoes.

The donations mean a lot more than just warm fingers and toes to the servicemembers receiving them.

"They're just so grateful for anything that's given to them," Goforth, now the foundation's executive director, said. "They want to know that we actually care about them, that we thank them and that we're supporting them. They just want the American public to support them."

The foundation is planning a "Someone Cares Benefit Concert" in conjunction with the United Service Organizations. The country music concert is scheduled for May in Dallas, and the profits raised will benefit the U.S. Wounded Soldier Foundation and the USO.

"It'll bring awareness to the needs of the wounded and thank them and welcome them home," Goforth said. "We should be behind every single soldier."

(ANN Salutes Samantha L. Quigley, American Forces Press Service.)

FMI: www.uswoundedsoldiers.com

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