– By Jeanne Keffer, Outgoing Inventory Director, Sew Much Comfort –
Our non-profit organization, Sew Much Comfort, was thrilled when COL Rice invited us to attend the AW2 Symposium this year, which was the first AW2 Symposium to include an exhibit hall. We were proud to be there and in the company of other non-profits, veteran service organizations, and Army programs, all sharing a mission of helping the most severely wounded Soldiers and their Families. The event was a wonderful opportunity for us to personally connect with the Soldiers, their Family members, AW2 staff and Army leadership.
Our goal was to get the word out about the adaptive clothes our dedicated seamstresses make for the wounded to use during their recuperation. Currently, our organization has an ambassador that visits Walter Reed to meet with soldiers and replenish their lockers with clothing. At Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC), hospital staff and AW2 advocates make sure Sew Much Comfort clothes are available, as well. However, we wanted all Army locations, VA hospitals, and individual service members to know about us and feel comfortable contacting us about requests to provide them with our shorts, shirts, pants, boxers, and accessories.
From the first evening of the symposium when the delegates came through the exhibit area, we knew our decision to come was a good one. The week was full of memorable experiences for us. We met a soldier and his wife who shared their story with us about using our clothing while at BAMC, and how much it helped them. We received orders for clothes from other delegates who are in need. An Army General came to our booth and got our information to give to his wife, who is interested in volunteering as a seamstress. We also had the pleasure of presenting one of our quilts to a special delegate who will be working with us on perfecting some of our patterns.
The opportunity to be a part of this very important process has given us new insight into the Army Wounded Warrior Program. We were able to witness the interactions of delegates and staff, to share meals and breaks with the attendees, to watch Operation Purple do its magic with the children, and to learn about and from the other exhibitors. We feel honored to have spent the week with this incredible group of people and returned with a feeling of gratitude for being a small part in their transition. The theme of the Symposium that we heard over and over again throughout the week is “I am AW2” and we felt that this also applied to us. Thanks for welcoming Sew Much Comfort as a part of the Symposium and a part of AW2- we will continue to make you proud.