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WOUNDED TROOPS ATTEND MARYLAND'S CONVENTION

Beach getaway offers rest and relaxation for wounded troops.

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For about six years now, wounded troops recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., as well as at Ft. Meade in Maryland and at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia, have had the opportunity for some rest and relaxation in the company of VFW and Ladies Auxiliary.

According to Tom Kimball, National Military Services Chairman for the Department of Maryland, the troops are bused to Ocean City on the state’s eastern coast for two and a half days of beach fun during the Department’s annual convention. Families are included, too.

Kimball said the state pays for a bus to pick up the troops and has the Maryland state police escort the troops to a Post where they eat breakfast before getting back on the road. Once they arrive in Ocean City, they are greeted with a special reception before being driven to their hotel.

This year 56 attended. Each person was given a beach bag complete with sunglasses, sunscreen, beach towels and even beach balls for the little ones. Most Posts in Maryland offer spending money to the troops and their families.

Kimball recounted a story of a female double amputee who “couldn’t have been older than her mid-20s.” He said she was very depressed when she arrived, and her spirit was low.

“After just a little while she left,” he said. “But she came back and had put on her prosthetics and she ended up dancing up a storm.”

He also told of two soldiers who had their dogs with them. So Kimball, who has a Jack Russell Terrier, went to his own vet and asked for a donation. “I figured as much [money] as I spend with him, he could help me out,” he joked.

The vet offered up two 50-pound bags of dog food.

“You would really be surprised what people are willing to do if you just ask,” Kimball said.

This all began as a spaghetti dinner at the Malone House at Walter Reed several years ago. He said that dinner spurred him to action to get the troops out of the hospital environment for a couple of days.

“As long as they want to come to our convention, we’ll keep doing it,” he said.

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