Wounded Warriors and Families receive thanks from community
September 28, 2012
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - In August, members of the North Point Yacht Club in Baltimore County put together a social event for local Wounded Warriors and their families to express thanks for their sacrifices for the defense of the nation.
Yacht club president Jim Diven, a retired command sergeant major, knew what he wanted to do but wasn't sure about how to go about it so he turned to Gary Hardy, clinical director of the APG Army Substance Abuse Program and former social work supervisor at Fort Meade's Warrior Transition Unit in the Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.
A former Marine himself, Hardy reached out to the Fort Meade Soldier Family Assistance Center and to APG leaders for help in getting the word out about the Wounded Warrior Social. He even lined up the guest speaker, CECOM and APG Command Sgt. Maj. Kennis Dent who attended the event accompanied by his wife Gloria and APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin. Though he knew something special was in the works, Hardy said he had no idea how special it was until the day of the event.
For weeks, organizers had been busy gathering donations of money and goods and invitees had been asked to list the number of family members and ages of their children. The day of the event, a NPYC honor guard greeted the Wounded Warrior families at the entrance. About 25 boat captains volunteered their boats to transport the families on a tour to Fort McHenry and back. The families were showered with all sorts of giveaways from Washington Redskins tickets to gift certificates for back to school supplies; every family received gifts of some kind. For some, the food was the best part. Members and guests feasted on bushels of steamed crabs, shrimp and corn on the cob, gourmet sausages and other delicacies. Yacht club members had hoped for at least 100 guests. They got 145 to sign up. About 15 Wounded Warriors were from the APG area.
Hardy said the event was made even more special by Dent's speech which stated APG's commitment to the Wounded Warrior and veteran populations.
On behalf of CECOM and APG Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ferrell, Dent thanked each Warrior and Family member for their sacrifice and commitment to the nation's defense. He introduced Ervin as the installation Lead for Veterans Affairs and encouraged them to reach out to him with questions or issues.
"Veterans like you still play a key role in the operations of the installation and our commands even after you leave military service," Dent said. "Because of their knowledge, skills and abilities, veterans play a huge role in the CECOM workforce."
He said that of the 8,000 CECOM civilians more than 3,200 are veterans and he encouraged veterans looking for jobs to contact the Civilian Human Resources Agency at APG to apply for the Wounded Warrior Expedited Referral Program. For more information, contact Cindy Sepulveda at 410-306-1745, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Dent told listeners.
He shared the story of Larry Perry, a former Navy Corpsman from Cecil County who, struggled to find work after returning home to his wife and child. After being referred through the Wounded Warrior hiring initiative Perry was offered a civil service position just over a month later and is now a member of the CECOM Information Technology staff.
Dent told listeners about the Army's credentialing program which awards formal recognition for skills Soldiers learn or for their experience to increase their ability to find work when they leave active duty. He advised them to visit www.cool.army.mil for more information.
He assured the warriors that just as the Pooles Island lighthouse, the symbol of the installation, serves as a beacon of science and technology; it also is a beacon of support for Wounded Warriors and their families.
"You will always be a part of the Army Family and … the APG Family," he said. "Look to our lighthouse if you need help or assistance."
Carol Evans, a KUSAHC occupational health nurse, major in the Army Reserve, and a Wounded Warrior also attended the social. She said organizers "went all out" to make sure everyone was taken care of.
"You could see it was put together with a great deal of love," she said. "The whole event was family oriented. They had wonderful activities; they even taught you how to fish and crack crabs."
Hardy said the social was a wonderful event he was proud to be a part of.
"I was proud to witness the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that people have about service members. There was real concern for their quality of life. I think it was their way of saying 'thank you' and 'we want you to be successful.'"
"This was all about giving them a relaxing, stress free day. Many of them said they had never been embraced like that. It made me proud to be a veteran."