Armed Forces Day Picnic Thanks Community
(From left) Les Huffman, board member, Returning Heroes Home; Dennis Noll, chairman of the board, Returning Heroes Home; and Bob Dickemper, board member, Returning Heroes Home, accept a $500,000 donation from Jim Jamison, director, external affairs, AT&T, for the Returning Heroes Home Fund during the Armed Forces Day picnic.

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- An Armed Forces Day picnic that included a barbecue and music was held May 17 at the future site of the Warrior and Family Support Center on George Beach Boulevard.

Guests included military personnel and their Families, and members from the San Antonio and surrounding communities.

The picnic was an opportunity to thank the community for their generous donations in support of the injured warriors who are recuperating at Brooke Army Medical Center from injuries sustained during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

The Returning Heroes Home project is one such donation. The new center is a 12,000-square-foot replacement building for the existing 1,200-square-foot Warrior and Family Support Center located in the second floor of the Powless Guest House.

The Warrior and Family Support Center, formerly called the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, was first opened in 2003. The center has had more than 150,000 visits. Most of these visitors are Family members of the injured servicemen and women who are receiving treatment at BAMC.

The center was developed when physicians at BAMC realized that Families are an integral part of a patient's rehabilitation and recovery. They needed a place away from the hospital environment and out of living quarters where they could be part of their loved ones healing process.

The Warrior and Family Support Center offers help for these needs plus much more. Judith Markelz, manager of the center, offers a home away from home atmosphere to injured warriors including those who have been severely burned, suffered traumatic injuries or have lost limbs.

The center is supported by donations and gifts from businesses, civic and veteran's organizations and individual community members. In addition to monetary donations, the center accepts a wide variety of gifts including phone cards, baked goods and special event tickets. The center also has Internet access and support services. But, because of its popularity, the place has outgrown itself.

The new center will include private counseling rooms and a computer learning area where troops and spouses can earn college credits online.

Brothers Steve and Les Huffman of Huffman Developments are leading the project. During the picnic, AT&T presented Huffman Developments with a $500,000 donation for the Returning Heroes Home Fund and USAA presented a $150,000 donation. The home is expected to open in the fall.

(Esther Garcia works for the Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs Office)

Page last updated Thu May 22nd, 2008 at 23:22