Wounded Warriors: Giving to those who have given so much

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 19:00

As Veterans Day approaches, think about all of those who have given so much to keep all of us safe. We have so many in our community that believe in our country and keeping it secure.

The Chugiak Lions have found a way to give back to the soldiers and their families. More than six years ago, the Chugiak Lions asked the commander of the Wounded Warriors Transition Barracks at Fort Richardson what the club could do for our local heroes stationed there. To the Lions’ surprise, the answer was a “home cooked meal.” This started an annual tradition of providing the wounded warriors a Thanksgiving dinner and another dinner at Easter.

Although the base provides the soldiers with a grand Thanksgiving dinner in the chow hall, many wounded soldiers find it difficult to attend. Some are on crutches or use canes and many are bandaged where getting dressed to attend the chow hall is difficult. This Thanksgiving dinner takes place on the first floor of their barracks and they can attend in attire comfortable for them. Some soldiers assigned to the group are married and bring their families as well.

The Chugiak Lions meet at the Eagle River Lions Den with turkeys, hams, cans of green beans, potatoes and all the other trimmings for a Thanksgiving dinner. Potato peels fly and gravy thickens on the stove.

In addition to cooking, individual thank you cards are furnished with a calling card for the troops to call home during the holidays.

Trucks and cars are loaded up and the caravan heads to Fort Richardson. They are welcomed by the crowd at the barracks and a Thanksgiving prayer starts the feast.

The Chugiak Lions spend time visiting with many of the soldiers to hear where they were from, what their plans for the future are, and to show their appreciation for all they have given.

The Chugiak Lions are just one of many organizations that help our wounded soldiers transition back into to civilian life. Christian Garrett, of the Soldiers and Family Assistance Center, helps coordinate groups on projects to help our local heroes.

The center focuses on the entire military family. There are organizations in the Mat-Su Valley that spend their resources taking wounded soldiers on fishing and hunting trips, groups that provide new baby kits to new military moms, a quilting group, as well as many other organizations that give a little something back to those who have given so much more.

If you are interested in getting involved with our wounded warriors, please contact Christian Garrett at 907-384-7322 or email [email protected] to find out the many ways you can make a contribution.

You can also contact one of the local area Lions Clubs to see if you can assist them in their many projects. It is truly a rewarding experience to shake the hand of a soldier who appreciates your efforts and know that you are making a difference in their life.

If you would like more information on how you can be a Lion, visit www.lionsclubs.org. To learn more about your local Lions clubs and what their missions and projects are, visit our websites at www.sleeping-ladylions.org, www.eagleriverlions.com. For more information on the Chugiak Lions Club, call Karen Burns at 242-1129.

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