Shoes for Our Wounded Warriors

Wounded WarriorsFLEET FEET Sports has proudly participated in the local Navy Reserve Officers Association's (ROA's) Wounded Warriors for many years, now.  The program began by providing new, high-quality footwear to wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan who were recovering at the Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany.  Currently, shoes are being sent to those recovering at the hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Since the program's inception, many tens of thousands of dollars worth of shoes have been shipped overseas.  (Click here to read a 2009 KSDK article about the program.)

A series of recent emails received from the soldier who is currently distributing the Wounded Warriors shoes sent from St. Louis reminds us in no uncertain terms that the war in Afghanistan continues and that the shoes that the ROA are sending are still very much needed by our recovering troops.  Instructions on how to donate to the program follow the emails.

June 17 - I have some down time, so I thought I'd share more about Afghanistan!  I'm not sure if I've really explained what my role is here, but I work in an interdisciplinary team - OT, PT, psychology, chaplin, and neurology, with a "concussion restoration" team upstairs. The soldiers who have been injured (IED blasts, motor vehicle accidents, sports accidents, etc.) but could potentially go back to the battlefield come to the "warrior recovery center." They stay here anywhere from a few days up to 4-5 wks at most.  During this time, they get the required rest, rehab, and other services they need to get them back good to go.  If they are not able to meet the benchmarks or return to duty, we have to send them back to the states.  The vast majority are able to return to duty; by far most of them want to return to duty!  Our little community is about 1/2 mile away for the hospital.  The Kandahar hospital is called the "combat hospital." There are shirts floating around and i'm trying to get my hands on a couple to send home. Our hospital is by far the nicest in country and busiest!  I am told by the nurses and doctors we DAILY receive patients with double and triple amputations. The job of the trauma hospital is to stabilize these patients, clean out their wounds as best we can, and get them to the states ASAP. There is a lot of paperwork that goes into transporting victims because they usually make a stop in Germany or some other country before getting to the US.  The combat hospital is set up for trauma. The hospital is located very near to the flight line so when patients are flown/transported in, their first stop is the ambulance entrance. Here they are searched by the MP and K9 unit...everyone! No explosives are allowed in the hospital! Inside the ER, to the right is radiology, to the left the OR. Everything is pretty centralized because time is of the essence.  Victims usually get to the hospital about 45min-1 hour after their injury occurred (15 minutes for gun fire to cease and about 15-20 minutes each way for the bird to go pick up patients). In the field, medics use whatever they have to save lives and tourniquets are commonplace. Everyone is required to have one in their right arm cargo pocket...yep, i carry one too! So a patient arrives, is checked for explosives, brought into the ER and stabilized so x-rays/MRI/CT can be taken so the OR docs know what all is going on. For the multiple amputation patients, 1 ortho surgeon to a limb (if that resource is available...otherwise it's one surgeon to a limb). We have 4 ORs, 3 are allowed to be up and running on a "normal" day of work, but 1 must always be open for that "just in case" trauma. Once the victim is stabilized, they are transported ASAP usually within 24 hours.  We do receive quite a few KIA warriors. When the bodies are on the Kandahar facility, all the countries fly the flags at 1/2 staff and once the body has departed the flags are flow at full staff. This is something all the countries participate in, which i think is pretty cool.  PS...to those who have sent the wounded warriors 12 pairs of shoes so far (10 of which have been claimed): Thank you !

June 19 - Good morning from Afghan.  I received another box of shoes this morning. It's such perfect timing (unfortunately) because several more soldiers came in yesterday. A terrorist was able to get into one of the dining facilities on another base and he set off a bomb. We had an influx of about 10 patients last night so those shoes were snatched up quickly. Most of the guys passing through here wear between 9.5-11...if that helps any.  Thanks again for all your support.

June 20 - This is a note from our hospital commander.  Recently there was an attack at a local dining facility.  This note reflects the number of patients who come through our facility on a reg basis.  "Just to reiterate comments made this morning, a great effort on everyone's part yesterday caring for all the casualties that came through. We don't keep a Guinness book of records, but yesterday had to have been right up there. On top of walk ins and referral care patients, beginning at 0620 in a period of 8 hours we received 30 missions, 29 from point of injury, 29 were US, and 25 related to battle injury. The operating rooms saw 14 patients with a total of 40 procedures. (Name Removed) presented 24 Purple Hearts. The trauma bay filled up, ICU and the ward weren't far behind. By 2100 the operating rooms were finished and the ICU/ICW had been cleared of casualties, heading up to Bagram. We were green across the board and capable of taking additional casualties should the units in the battlefield need us. Very very impressive. Thank you for your service and dedication."

July 4 - It's just another day of work in the combat zone!!  The USO hosted a 2.27 (almost 5K) run to celebrate America day! I finished in about 15 minutes. Motivated by my hunger pains! All those who registered got a free t-shirt which are fun; the dining facilities are all decorated with red, white, and blue...its the little things that count here. We won't be able to shoot off fireworks tonight :-( although i heard a rumor about sparklers...maybe! Out at the boardwalk there will be carnival games, 5 on 5 soccer, and flag football tournament later this afternoon; again hosted by the USO and MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation). The boardwalk is about 1/4 mile and inside there is a soccer field about the size of an indoor soccer field, a mini hockey rink, bunkers for the rocket attacks, track on the outer edge, and a few picnic tables.  I received another box of shoes earlier this week. I tell you what, those are grabbed up so fast (by the wounded warriors)!"

FLEET FEET invites you to join us in support of the Wounded Warriors shoe donation program.  All monies donated to the program must go through the Reserve Officers Association. Make checks payable to the “Reserve Officers Association” or “ROA” – with “Wounded Warriors” noted in the memo section. Checks should be sent to “Wounded Warriors, c/o FLEET FEET Sports, 3813 Mexico Road, St. Charles, MO 63303.” For every $15 raised by the ROA, FLEET FEET will provide them a top-quality athletic shoe appropriate for use during the rehabilitation process. The ROA will then transport the shoes overseas. If you have questions, email or Dawn Pesti, our ROA contact.

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