Senator visits wounded warriors, families at Warrior and Family Support Center
July 9, 2012
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (July 9, 2012) -- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas attended a private Purple Heart ceremony July 2, at the Warrior and Family Support Center for a Soldier wounded in Afghanistan during a dismounted patrol in June 2012.
Maj. Gen. Walter Davis, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army North, hosted the private ceremony in which the Purple Heart Medal was presented.
After the ceremony, Hutchison toured the Warrior and Family Support Center, or WFSC, with Davis and Judith Markelz, the WFSC's program director, and took advantage of an opportunity to meet the wounded warriors and their families.
"It is always so moving to visit with Soldiers who have been wounded while fighting for their country -- and with their families," said Hutchison. "The work done at the Warrior and Family Support Center is tremendously important to our men and women in uniform. We owe our freedom to these brave warriors and in return they deserve the best care possible. They have put themselves in harm's way for all of us and we are grateful to them."
The facility on Fort Sam Houston is the only one of its kind. It offers a safe environment for military families to reconnect following military operations and an opportunity to restart their lives with the full support of the military community.
Through donations and the Returning Heroes Home Project, the Warrior and Family Support Center moved from the 1,200-square-foot room in the Powless Guest House to the current 12,500-square-foot building, Dec. 1, 2008.
"I'm just amazed with everything that can be done with volunteer work and private donations," said Hutchison.
The building includes a large social gathering area, kitchen facilities, a dining room, a learning facility for computerized training, a private counseling room, a business center with high speed internet access, a game room, large front and back porch areas, a walking garden, a playground and a running track.
For service members at the facility, having a U.S. Senator visit showed the government's commitment to wounded warriors and their families.
"We're used to people saying they care, but to have a senator take time to come see us really shows that they care," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Adkins, who was injured during an indirect fire attack in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, in December 2011. The 15-year veteran of three combat tours, and Lubbock, Texas, native, had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the senator and to share his experiences as a member of the Texas National Guard.
Capt. Larkin O'Hern, a triple-amputee who works in the future operations cell at Army North, along with his wife, Rachael, spoke with the senator and shared their experiences.
"I told her I applied for an Army Congressional Fellowship, and she discussed her experiences with the fellowship program and her priorities as a senator representing a state with a large military population," said O'Hern, a native of Belton, Texas. O'Hern was injured after an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on a dismounted patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on New Year's Eve 2010.
The senator's visit was also positive in that it highlights that there are still ongoing operations in Afghanistan and that there are still Wounded Warriors returning from combat, said Markelz.
"This war is not over; and when distinguished visitors like Senator Hutchison take time to visit with wounded warriors, it reminds people that our wounded warriors still need help," Markelz said. "This visit reaffirms the commitment of the State of Texas and the community to support our wounded warriors and their families."