5,000TH First Response Backpacks Shipped to Wounded Soldier

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Soldiers' Angels has Shipped 5,000 Backpacks to Soldiers who have been wounded in the War on Terror

The days of the Medical Army Surgical Hospital (known as MASH units) are gone. The United States Army decommissioned the last MASH unit on February 16, 2006. On today's battlefield wounded American soldiers are no longer hospitalized in the combat area of operations. Rather they are transported to a Combat Support Hospital for initial treatment and, if further medical treatment is warranted, the soldiers are transported to an American hospital in Germany. The medical treatment and transportation occur with such speed that the soldiers often arrive in Germany wearing the same uniform that they were wearing when they were wounded. The soldiers' gear and personal items rarely catch up with them.    

In an effort to provide comfort to these wounded heros, the First Response Backpack was developed by a nonprofit organization named Soldiers' Angels. The First Response Backpack is a backpack stuffed with personal items which are necessary and vital to the physical comfort of the soldiers. A typical First Response Backpack contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, shampoo, soap and other hygiene products. It also contains articles of clothing and undergarments to provide the soldier some relief from the airy hospital gowns. A phone card is included so that the soldiers can call their family members while they recover. Each pack also contains a blanket. The blanket, dubbed a "Blanket of Hope" is handmade by Soldiers' Angels volunteers and is accompanied by a note of well wishes for each soldier.

On May 10, 2006 Soldiers Angels shipped the 5,000th First Response Backpack The packs have been shipped to Combat Support Hospitals in Iraq and to all of the United States Military hospitals worldwide. The work of Soldiers' Angels has been recognized by the Department of Defense and Patti Patton-Bader, the group's founder and the niece of General George S. Patton, has been awarded the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service by the Department of the Army.

However, the greatest recognition has come from the wounded hero's themselves. One soldier wrote, "I want to thank your organization personally for the back packs that you have provided for the wounded and sick soldiers here ... As the 1SG of this company, I want you to know that these back packs put smiles on the soldiers' faces and that's priceless." A hospital worker recounted her experience with a soldier who had received a First Response Backpack. She stated, " When his parents arrived the first thing he showed them was his Purple Heart, the second was his Blanket of Hope from Soldiers Angels! I cannot tell you the emotional thank you we received from this young soldier's mother!" In another instance a wounded soldier's mother wrote, "Dear Soldiers' Angels, Thank you for the blanket, my son won't let go of it...".

Soldiers' Angels was founded in the summer of 2003 by Patton-Bader when her son wrote home from Iraq expressing his concern that some soldiers did not receive any mail or support from home. Within a few short months Soldiers' Angels had grown from a mother writing a few extra letters to an Internet Community with thousands of angels worldwide. Soldiers' Angels' purpose is to provide aid and comfort to the thousands of American Service Members stationed wherever the United States raises its flag. In addition to the Hero Packs, Soldiers' Angels sponsors programs which provide laptop computers to wounded soldiers, care packages and support to deployed soldiers, armored blankets to military ambulances, and memorial trees to the families of soldiers who have died in the service of their country. As Patton-Bader says, "Our mission is to insure that no soldier feels unloved."

If you would like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with Patti Patton-Bader, please call Don MacKay at (615)676-0239.

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Don MacKay
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