By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideApril 1, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Makeup, manicures, and stylish haircuts aren't standard issue for women in the military, but on March 28, wounded female Soldiers gathered for a morning of laughter, enlightenment, and pampering.
In honor of Women's History Month, the Fort Bragg and Pope Field American Red Cross hosted spa event entitled Salute to Female Wounded Warriors, at the Fort Bragg Club. Vendors from around the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville community offered their services and time to those who have given so much for them.
"This is a day for them to relax and be inspired again," said Tiffany Shedd, Fort Bragg and Pope Field American Red Cross spokeswoman. "This event was specifically asked for by the Warrior Transition Battalion case workers. Many of the wounded female Soldiers have mentioned that they don't feel very feminine in uniform. We wanted to give them the chance to feel like ladies again and to also make them feel appreciated," she said.
"It's amazing too see the community out here for us," said Sgt. 1st Class Claudia Mullens, WTB, of the many different vendors who supported the event. "This is like ... wow!"
Capt. Amy Fashauer. U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, agreed that the support for the event was good to see.
"There are so many vendors here to give us a pampering session, this is great. It really makes you feel special," said Fashauer.
The guests were treated to breakfast and listened to several inspirational speakers who have ties to the wounded warrior population. Guest speaker Sgt. 1st Class Wrilshxer Mendoza, WTB, who suffered traumatic brain injury and depression, spoke to the audience about her road to recovery.
"I didn't want anyone to know how bad off I was," Mendoza said. "I kept telling everyone I was alright, when in reality I was barely making it through the day. At the time, I excused all the (TBI) symptoms by telling myself that after four deployments, it was normal to act the way I was acting. It took me forever to ask for help and to realize that I couldn't (recover) on my own."
Through the help of therapists, social workers, and her caseworker, Mendoza was able to become herself once again. A year ago Mendoza said that she couldn't even run a mile. But on March 20, she completed the Los Angeles marathon. After almost 20 years of service, Mendoza is committed to helping other women wounded warriors and has started a non-profit organization called Task Force Jane.
"It has been a tough road, but thanks to God and the medical staff here, I am making it. I won't give up, and there is happiness after an injury," said Mendoza to a standing ovation.