- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

It has been a busy year for Cause — Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services — and I thought you might be interested in a brief update on our programs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the growing corps of volunteers supporting the wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

You’ll recall that Cause is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by four West Point alumni/Vietnam War veterans and their wives. It provides recreation and entertainment programs to soldiers facing difficult medical therapies and long hospital stays. Now, with hundreds of volunteers, donors and partner organizations, Cause is there to lighten the load for patients and their families with holiday parties, picnics, spa days, gift packs and a digital lending library that stocks a wide range of video discs, games and systems. Starting early in the new year, Cause will launch monthly video-game tournaments and Sunday brunches at Walter Reed for soldiers and their families. Also in 2007, Cause expects to establish a digital library in at least one other major military medical center.

Americans from around the country are showing their appreciation for the sacrifice of these brave servicemen and women. Cause volunteers are firefighters, police officers, lawyers, sorority sisters, hairstylists, school kids, business executives and stay-at-home moms. They are members of scout troops, civic clubs, churches and professional associations. They are the face of America and they simply want to help.

• Small-town Tennessee chambers of commerce celebrate “Christmas in October” by collecting gift pack items for Cause.

• Recalling the women of North Platte, Neb., in Bob Greene’s book “Once Upon a Town,” members of the Bookish Babes, a book club in Lincoln, Neb., host their friends at fundraising “Coffees for Cause.”

• Hairstylists, manicurists and massage therapists in the D.C. area donate their expertise for full-service spa days at Walter Reed.

• Quilters in North Carolina, Minnesota and Maryland donate lovingly made quilts.

• A self-professed “aging rock ‘n’ roller” from Minnesota, believing in the therapeutic power of music, funds an IPod giveaway.

• Kirstin Yuhl-Torres, whose son Sgt. Joseph W. Perry of the Army’s 21st Military Police Company was killed in Muhalla on Oct. 2, traveled from her home in California to Washington this Christmas to honor her son’s memory and joined with Cause volunteers at Walter Reed.

Please visit www.cause-usa.org and we hope you and your readers will be interested in the work of Cause volunteers. We would love to tell them more.

Sincerely,

Denise Liebowitz

Cause volunteer

Dear Denise:

An attaboy to you and the other volunteers of Cause. I know the wounded and their families truly appreciate your generous support.

In addition to the efforts of Cause that you mentioned, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society has expanded its Visiting Nurse program to provide greater services to combat casualties.

The Visiting Nurse Combat Casualty Assistance (CCA) Program is designed to work with family members as well as service members, to identify needs and concerns that affect the entire family. Registered nurses are available at no cost to the service member or family members:

• To explain and offer available Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society services to combat-casualty Marines and sailors and their family members.

• To visit service members and family members, regardless of their location, in order to understand their needs, provide an ongoing resource for them, listen to the family’s concerns and provide emotional support.

• To provide resource information on areas of support not provided by government.

Financial assistance may also be available, as an interest-free loan or outright grant, depending on the need for such purposes as helping family members travel to the bedside of a wounded service member, covering living expenses while the family stays at the bedside of a wounded service member, and to temporarily cover expenses that may eventually be paid for by the government.

The CCA program also provides financial help, when assistance from Veterans Affairs or other government agencies is not available, for reconfiguring the homes and purchasing converted vans or vehicles for wounded service members. It also assists with expenses of service members going on convalescent leave between medical treatments and with education programs beyond government-funded allowances for Marines, sailors or family members.

Those interested in learning more about the Relief Society’s programs are encouraged to call headquarters at 703/696-0032 or visit its Web site at www.nmcrs.org for the locations and phone numbers of its offices around the world.

c Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail [email protected]bavf.org.

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