Humanitarian Organization for Wounded Soldiers
September 23, 2009
Mike Healy joined CSC 16 years ago. As a proposal manager working out of the Chantilly, VA, office in the United States, he currently supports U.S. Federal Government proposals that involve CSC's Global Security Solutions. Four years ago, Mike founded a philanthropic organization, the USMA 1969 Claude Alexander Volunteer Program, that helps wounded U.S. Army soldiers being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Why did you create the program'
I'm a U.S. Military Academy (USMA) West Point graduate and former Army officer. Four years ago, I learned of the pressing need for a program that would provide Walter Reed outpatients and their families with access to free off-post recreational events. The hospital environment can feel stressful and confining. A relaxing recreation break away from the hospital is often a welcome relief. We had a readymade volunteer group to help with this - over 100 of my West Point classmates who live in the Washington, DC, area.
How does the program work'
We sponsor, set up, fund, and coordinate monthly trips to sports and entertainment events for Walter Reed outpatients and their families. We repeat some trips each year, and we regularly develop new ones. For each trip, I send a message to our e-mail list of volunteers, and anywhere from three to eight volunteers sign up. The other volunteers and I greet the outpatients and their families when they arrive, escort them around the event site, and provide support throughout the day. The program is now named in memory of my deceased classmate Claude Alexander, a U.S. Army officer veteran who was an inspirational mentor to many young men and women at Walter Reed, and who was very instrumental in our volunteer program's effectiveness and success.
Who are some of the program's partners'
We work closely, of course, with Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Walter Reed staff members are dynamic, energetic, enthusiastic and hardworking, and their support of the program has been extraordinary from the beginning. Various sports and community organizations also help us coordinate the trips, including the U.S. Naval Academy Athletic Department, the Washington Capitals professional hockey team, and the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts. Three CSC executives, two of whom are U.S. Army officer veterans, have also been involved with the program.
What are some of the events'
For one event, a group of 37 outpatients and family members, our largest group to date, attended a concert at Wolf Trap featuring Randy Travis, a country-music performer, on a Friday night. After the concert, some of the veterans met Randy Travis backstage. Another memorable trip was to attend the St. Patrick's Day parade in Baltimore, MD. We also organize regular outings to sporting events, including Army and Navy football, basketball, baseball, and lacrosse games and wrestling matches.
How can people get involved with this organization'
First, they might consider starting a program like this in their community. I'm always happy to discuss how to go about doing this. Another option is to become involved in this program. If you have interest or would like to learn more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your plans for the program in the future'
We started small the first year, with three or four trips. Eventually, the goal was to do one trip every month, and we've just about reached that goal today. We will continue managing and building the program as long as necessary. There is a need to help these recuperating U.S. military young men and women in large and small ways. We can't forget about them.