MAJOR PROJECTS SUMMARY
MAY 2005 to June 2010
MARCH 2009 TO JUNE 2010--- In the spring of 2009, AWCF was made aware of a problem area for many wounded warriors being treated at BAMC. It is not uncommon for some soldiers to buy a home in the San Antonio area since they will receive prolonged treatment at BAMC. Soldiers with burns and amputations were running into trouble with their neighborhood associations because they could not physically maintain their yards nor could they afford to hire someone to do the job for them. AWCF now has a program in place that provides twice monthly lawn care for those who request it. A total of 14 wounded warriors are currently utilizing the program and AWCF has spent $5000 on this relatively new program.
DECEMBER 2005 THRU JUNE 2010--- AWCF has provided emergency funding to support wounded soldiers and their families encountering a wide range of financial problems. Some typical examples include funeral expenses for a spouse or other non-military family member, emergency car repairs, travel expenses, and subsistence funding for soldiers when military pay is interrupted due to confusion in the transfer from battlefield to BAMC. AWCF has spent over $105,000 to support 156 financial crisis situations since December of 2005. AWCF has been able to expand and sustain this program due to generous grants from the TEXAS RESOURCES FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN DEPLOYMENT (TRIAD) fund and BOB WOODRUFF FOUNDATON grant funding. This is perhaps the most important program funded by AWCF due to the severity of most of the financial hardship situations that wounded warriors and their families are facing.
OCTOBER 2005 THRU June 2010--- Spouses, parents, and relatives rush to BAMC without hesitation when a wounded soldier from their family arrives from the battlefield. Many do not qualify of free billeting and find that they cannot afford the lodging fees charged by the civilian contractor who runs Army billeting. This only makes a stressful situation worse at a time when they do not need additional pain in their lives. AWCF began paying billeting bills for those who could not pay in October of 2005. This program has been augmented by four generous grants from the TRIAD Fund. This has allowed AWCF to sustain this vital program. At the end of June 2010, AWCF had paid 105 billeting bills at a cost of $29,225. This program became even more critical in the fall of 2008 when the Army contracted out billeting to a civilian company and the price for a room increased by 60%.
AUGUST 2007 THRU June 2010--- In August 2007, AWCF began a project to help family members of the wounded who experienced medical/dental emergencies while visiting their wounded soldier at BAMC. To date AWCF has paid 47 medical/dental bills totaling $12,688. These emergencies normally involved a single parent mother with no health insurance. For a small investment, AWCF has relieved much pain and suffering for family members who desperately needed a helping hand. Since August of 2007 this program has been funded by generous grants from the TRIAD Fund.
JUNE 2005 thru June 2010--- AWCF began providing BX Gift Certificates to the Fort Sam Houston Warrior & Family Support Center (W&FSC) and to the Gift Coordinator for BAMC Inpatient Services in the summer of 2005. In March 2008, reorganization at BAMC switched the BAMC Gift Coordinator donations to the BAMC Fisher House. To date, $41,400 in BX Gift Certificates has been donated by AWCF to support wounded warriors and their family members. The impetus behind this project is the fact that family members rush to BAMC when their wounded warrior arrives from the battlefield for medical treatment. Many are not in a financial position to shoulder the burden of travel and living away from home. The gift certificates have filled a vital need in providing them quick access to clothing, toiletries, and other essentials such as diapers and baby food. In addition, most wounded soldiers arrive from the battlefield with only the hospital gown they are wearing. The gift certificates provide them with essential clothing items and toiletries until their pay and possessions catch up. This program was augmented in July 2007 by a generous grant from the TRIAD Fund. Additional funds to support this program have been provided by grants from BWF. This project is ongoing with $1500 per month being donated to fill the needs at BAMC.
DECEMBER 2005 THRU DECEMBER 2009--- AWCF initiated a special program in December 2005 designed to seek out and help needy soldiers during the Christmas Holiday. AWCF has awarded grants totaling $50,750 for this project that was named Christmas Hope. Special consideration was given to wounded soldiers with children. AWCF grants have been given to a total of 101wounded warriors during the last four holidays. Thanks to generous donations from the TRIAD Fund, BWF, and other supporters, the Christmas Hope program in December 2009 gave $21,500 to 42 wounded warrior families with a total of 112 children. The social workers at BAMC go all out each year to identify the families most in need of help.
FEBRUARY 2006 THRU JUNE 2010---AWCF entered a partnership with Duggan Diving of Universal City, TX to provide scuba training classes for wounded soldiers. AWCF has expended $34,100 to date to buy equipment and defray training expenses. This project has produced 125 open water certified divers and the program is ongoing. The scope of the scuba program has been enhanced by generous donations from the TRIAD Fund and BWF. This program is managed by the San Antonio River Rats. Scuba Diving is a particularly popular sport for amputees due to the near weightless water environment.
MARCH 2007 THRU JUNE 2010—A San Antonio River Rat with an interest in archery started an archery training program for wounded BAMC soldiers. This River Rat was able to assemble $10,000 in donated archery equipment and she start weekly archery training classes. AWCF spent $4,400 supporting this program which included sending one soldier who was an amputee to the National Archery Target Competition in Colorado Springs in August 2007. The soldier won the National Championship in the disabled category for the recurved bow and set 10 national records while doing it. When the San Antonio River Rat running this program moved out of the area, the archery equipment was successfully transferred to the Fort Sam Houston Archery Training Center. The equipment has invigorated that program and given wounded soldiers a convenient place to learn archery with good equipment under the tutelage of expert instructors. Archery is a very adaptive sport and wounded soldiers with a wide range of injuries can participate in the sport. The TRIAD fund has provided very generous grants to support the archery program with emphasis on sending wounded warriors to regional and national competitions. The TRIAD grants have allowed AWCF to send amputees equipped with state of the art archery equipment to three National Archery Target Championship Tournaments. Sgt. Steve Bosson, a leg amputee, won the National Target Championship in the recurved bow for the second consecutive year and has become the first archer to be designated an Army World Class Athlete. AWCF has invested $34,100 in the archery program.
SEPTEMBER 2005/2006/ October 2007/2008/2009--- AWCF has joined forces with Operation Comfort to sponsor the annual MS-150 bike marathon. The MS-150 is a two-day bicycle ride that originates in San Antonio. Adaptive bikes are provided for amputees. AWCF has contributed $9,500 for lodging, food, and entry fees to support this annual event. The run to the beach in 2007 and 2008 was held in October and a work force of ten River Rats went to the halfway point to prepare a tent city for the wounded soldiers and companion riders. The 2008 MS-150 has a record 22 wounded soldiers signed up to ride. The 2009 MS-150 went to New Braunfels, TX and AWCF funds paid for lodging and food for the wounded warriors who rode in the event. The move from tents to condominiums proved fortuitous as violent thunderstorms raked the area during the evening hours of the 2009 ride.
SEPTEMBER 2009--- A blue water scuba trip to Panama City, FL for 7 BAMC wounded warriors was arranged in cooperation with the Tyndall AFB/ Panama City River Rat Pack. An Airlift for the warriors was arranged by Veterans Airlift Command. Duggan Diving of Universal City provided the logistical support and dive supervision. The Tyndall Rats hosted the wounded warriors and arranged several meals for the solders courtesy of local restaurants. AWCF paid $3700 for transportation, lodging, boat rental, and meals to support this adventure for seven deserving soldiers.
SEPTEMBER 2005 thru SEPTEMBER 2009---Fisher House at BAMC holds an open house and BBQ each September to kick off their annual drive to capture donations through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). AWCF has given $1000 each year to provide food and beverage for this event. In addition, the San Antonio River Rats provide manpower to help stage the open house. CFC pledges from this event have risen to near $300,000 per year. This is a vital program for BAMC Fisher House which now provides rooms at no charge for 59 wounded warrior families 24/07/365.
JULY 2009--- At the request of the Flathead Valley Montana River Rats, AWCF arranged a trout fishing and sightseeing trip to Montana for four BAMC wounded warriors. Air transportation was provided courtesy of Veterans Airlift Command. The Flathead Valley River Rats hosted the warriors to trout fishing and sightseeing in Glacier Park and the National Bison Refuge. Lodging, transportation, and food was provided by the Flathead Valley River Rats and the citizens of Kalispell, MT. The good people in Montana treated the soldiers like royalty and the whole affair was a tremendous morale booster for the wounded warriors.
AUGUST 2006/2007/2008--- AWCF joined Operation Comfort in sponsoring the most ambitious adaptive sports adventures yet undertaken. The suggestion came from a wounded soldier who wanted to learn how to surf. Operation Comfort located a world-class surfer at Pismo Beach named Rodney Roller. Rodney had lost a leg in an industrial accident and he went on to become director of “Amp-Surf”. Through Rodney’s efforts, the community at Pismo Beach, CA agreed to host BAMC soldiers by providing food, surfing lessons, equipment, and other recreational opportunities. AWCF has provided $14,000 to support the three trips. Forty five wounded soldiers have gone on these adventure trips and had the experience of a lifetime.
APRIL 2006/2007/2008--- AWCF joined forces with Operation Comfort to sponsor three special trips to Galveston, TX. AWCF contributions to the three trips have totaled $10,500. Each trip has taken a party of 35 plus wounded soldiers, family members and medical personnel in a convoy of private cars to Galveston. The first and third trips from BAMC were greeted at Galveston city limits by a convoy of police who escorted the BAMC party through the center of town with lights flashing and sirens blaring. The first convoy was met at the hotel by a huge crowd which included the mayor pro tem and other dignitaries. Following welcoming speeches, each soldier was presented a gift bag. The trips included VIP tour of the Johnson Space Center, a black drum fishing tournament, and a visit to Moody Gardens. The hospitality of the people at NASA and Galveston has been extraordinary.
JANUARY 2006 /2007/2008--- AWCF has joined with Operation Comfort and Wood River Ability Program to provide a total of 35 soldiers and family members three very memorable ski trips to Sun Valley, ID. AWCF has contributed $12, 000 to this joint venture. Wood River and the residents of Sun Valley have provided extraordinary hospitality and support each year for the wounded soldiers.
JULY 2006/2007--- AWCF teamed up with Operation Comfort to send 12 wounded soldiers to Middle Fork Lodge, ID. The lodge is located on the pristine Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The soldiers were welcomed at the Boise Airport by the Governor of Idaho. They enjoyed five days of trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, trap shooting, swimming, and sightseeing. The accommodations were provided at a fraction of the normal cost. This was a splendid trip for some very deserving soldiers. AWCF provided $7,000 for these two trips.
JUNE 2007—In an April 2006 visit of the Johnson Space Center, astronaut Lee Archambault escorted a contingent of wounded soldiers on a VIP tour of the center. He subsequently invited the San Antonio River Rats to bring two wounded soldiers to the launch of the STS-117 Space Shuttle mission on which he was the pilot. A Marine and an Army soldier who had both suffered burns in Iraq where chosen to make the trip along with a San Antonio River Rat acting as escort officer. The wounded soldiers were given VIP seating for the launch and the trip was highly successful and a big morale booster for two seriously wounded soldiers. AWCF provided $4,000 to sponsor this trip. A sequel to this story occurred in March of 2009. Col. Archambault contacted the AWCF BAMC project officer and asked that a wounded warrior be nominated to attend the launch of the STS-119 Space Shuttle launch which he would command. An Air Force explosive ordnance disposal specialist who lost an arm and the sight in both eyes while in Iraq was nominated by AWCF. Col. Archambault arranged through Air Force channels to have the wounded warrior and his wife as his VIP guests for the launch.
MARCH 2006--- White Sands, NM has a commemorative event each year in remembrance of the Bataan Death March. AWCF received a request for funds to sponsor wounded soldiers who wanted to participate. AWCF provided $2,000 that allowed five soldiers to rent a van and cover expenses for the drive to and from White Sands.
DECEMBER 2005--- AWCF joined with Operation Comfort to sponsor a ski trip to Lake Tahoe, CA. AWCF contributed $3,000 to this project. Ski trips are extremely popular with the wounded soldiers. Operation Comfort paid the major share of this trip and the combining of resources sponsored 10 wounded soldiers on this ski adventure.
JUNE 2005--- AWCF joined Operation Comfort to sponsor 15 amputees in the Endeavor Games at Edmond, Oklahoma. American Airlines donated airline tickets and AWCF contributed $3000 to cover food, lodging, and incidental expenses. This project was a big success and the BAMC warriors won many medals in the competition.
July 2007—Operation Comfort has fielded a hockey team with over 20 wounded soldiers who are amputees. This team practices on a regular basis and plays exhibition matches at the AT&T Center in conjunction with the professional San Antonio hockey team. AWCF has contributed over $4300 to the team to buy special hockey sleds and other equipment. The founder and CEO of Operation Comfort is River Rat Janis Roznowski.
MAY 2006 and October 2006--- Two special situations developed that involved sailors who were injured by explosive device. They were released back to reservist status before their injuries were properly diagnosed and treated. In both cases the Navy corpsmen had families. The BAMC staff began the process to return them to active duty so they could be treated at BAMC. While this process was underway, AWCF provided the families with $2600 in cash assistance for food and essential bills. Additional assistance was provided by Operation Comfort. The sailors are now receiving medical treatment, have a paycheck coming in, and the families have been able to avoid a financial disaster.
SEPTEMBER 2006--- AWCF was made aware of a need in the BAMC burn ward that was not being met. Wounded soldiers usually arrive from the combat zone with just the hospital gowns they are wearing. It takes time for their pay and possessions to catch up with them. When they go ambulatory, they are embarrassed to walk around in public in hospital gowns. A burn ward nurse identified a need for loose fitting athletic garments, flip-flops, and underwear. AWCF delivered enough clothing to take care of 15 soldiers. The cost was $450. An additional contribution of major proportion was made by a River Rat who is a professor at Texas A&M University and also a member of the San Antonio Pack. When Texas A&M switched their sponsor for athletic gear from Nike to Addis, he was able to deliver a large quantity of athletic wear surplus to the Texas A&M Athletic Department to the BAMC Burn Ward. For many months, the BAMC Burn Ward looked like A&M south with everyone sporting nifty maroon jogging suits.
JUNE 2006--- A soldier was scheduled to receive a purple heart at BAMC. His mother could not fly to San Antonio due to complications from terminal cancer. She felt she could make the trip from Phoenix by car. The W&FSC operating within their regulations paid for food and lodging during the trip but could not buy the gasoline needed to get her to San Antonio. AWCF paid $200 for the fuel bill. This was a small kindness by AWCF but one that meant a great deal to this family.
APRIL 2006--- A Marine Lance Corporal who had suffered burns in Iraq was visiting his Pueblo Indian Tribe in New Mexico when his wounds became infected. He was flown back to BAMC and his mother drove to San Antonio to be with him. AWCF paid $1027 for her travel expenses, lodging, and subsistence.
DECEMBER 2005--- AWCF was made aware of a young Marine who had suffered a terrible leg wound in Iraq. The wound became infected during his rehabilitation. There was a very real possibility that he would lose the leg. AWCF teamed with the BAMC W&FSC to bring the soldier’s mother and sister to San Antonio to be with him during the Christmas Holiday. AWCF provide $1100 for billeting and subsistence during the two weeks the mother and daughter were at BAMC. This is an example of the EMERGECY GRANT program in action.
OCTOBER 2005--- The two original Fisher Houses have a play area for children. It was an unsanitary and unacceptable situation for children. Fisher House had a concrete slab poured with toy riding animals embedded in the concrete. AWCF paid $4300 to install a high quality Astro-Play pad that now provides a safe play surface for children. The pad is maintenance free and will serve the needs of the Fisher House for many years.
MAY 2005--- AWCF paid $6000 to repair and paint the exterior of the two BAMC Fisher Houses. The buildings were 13 years old and in dire need of refurbishment. Local Red River Valley Fighter Pilot Association (RRVA) volunteers painted the detached structures. A contractor was hired to paint the exterior of the two houses and a lot of this work was done ‘pro bono”.