HERNDON – The Fifth Annual Gold Star Mother’s/Family Day luminary program was held Sunday evening at the Alvin E. Long, Post 504 Legion, Herndon.
The program was held to honor the mothers and families of fallen heroes. The Mothers and Others (MOS) support group sponsored the event.
The program began at 6:45 p.m. with opening remarks by Paul Lehman, a WWII Army Veteran. Lehman shared his story of how he almost lost his life while in combat in the Battle of the Bulge.
“My heart was jumping in my chest as my buddy and I were inside a church and we were surrounded by Germans,” recalled Lehman before the crowd of more than 50 people in attendance. “A tank was coming up the road toward the church and I waited as long as I could before I fired my bazooka at them. They retreated but I knew it wouldn’t be for long. They came back and we fired again and were able to capture them. It wasn’t too long after that the war was over.”
Lana Hoover and Vanessa Miller offered the singing of the National Anthem as well as other special music as the luminary were lit lining the entire length of the legion driveway.
This year’s pledge donations from the luminary will be forwarded to the LCpl. Jason Frye Memorial. LCpl. Frye was killed in action on October 6, 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I wake up and he’s the first person I think of and he’s the person I shed a tear for before I go to bed each night,” said LCpl. Frye’s mother, who attended the event. “It seems like it happened just yesterday.”
Joette Deppen, also a Gold Star Mother, introduced guest speaker, Mrs. Helen Sajer, president and founder of Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc.
Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors’ mission is to help restore wounded warriors to good physical, mental and emotional health. Their motto is, ‘no warrior without help.’
Mrs. Sajer and her late husband Major Sajer have six children, three of which served their country. In 2005 when their son returned from Fallujah, Iraq, unharmed, they became committed to working on the recovery period.
“These soldiers were coming home and they would receive their monthly check and it just wasn’t enough to make ends meet, they would be struggling both financially and emotionally,” said Mrs. Sajer. “This is why we began Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc.”
Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc. is an independent statewide non-profit 501(c)(3) organization providing support to Pennsyvlania Wounded warriors and their families and Veteran in Crisis. Their unpaid staff consists entirely of volunteers who donate their time and expertise on behalf of Pennsylvania’s veterans.
“We are not affiliated with nor a part of the national organization Wounded Warrior Project and we do not receive any funds from them,” said Mrs. Sajer. “Our ability to help Pennsylvania veterans is financially supported by generous donations from individuals, local, civic and business groups, schools, churches and individuals veteran organizations such as VFW, American Legion, DAV, Vietnam Veterans, etc. Small communities like this our the people who support our mission. The people that make up these communities are the most patriotic, the most religious and the most caring people.”
Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc. does not use a paid telemarketer, direct mail or fundraising consultant. The only fundraising event is their annual Wounded Warrior Gala held in October to honor the veterans. This allows the volunteers to dedicate their time completely to helping the wounded warrior and veterans in crisis transition through difficult times.
Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors welcomes individuals or organizations interested in sponsoring a fund raising event to contact them. They will provide brochures/poster and help publicize the efforts through their Facebook page and public appearances.
Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors can be contacted by writing to Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc. 1117 Country Club Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011. They can be reached by phone at 717-761-4017, by fax 717-260-3622 or their helpline at 1-855-729-9435. General information may be obtained by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A veteran requesting assistance can email email@example.com. More information can also be found on the website at http://www.pawoundedwarriors.org.
Last year PA Wounded Warriors provided $609,000 in assistance to over 1200 veterans and families. For every $1 donated, .96 cents is used to assist veterans and their families.
“People can be against the war, but not the soldier,” said Mrs. Sajer.