Got Heart, Give Hope

Apr 24, 2010

This little expatriate does not get out very much to "grown up" events. Without close family and friends nearby and after a disastrous experience with an after school nanny, finding a good and trustworthy babysitter for Little Roo has proved too hard on most occasions. Last night all the moons were in alignment and I got to dress up and attend a the Got Heart, Give Hope Gala to benefit the Hope for the Warriors programs and services

In their own words "The mission of Hope for the Warriors is to enhance quality of life for US Service Members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Hope for the Warriors actively seeks to ensure that the sacrifices of wounded and fallen warriors and their families are never forgotten nor their needs unmet."

Even this little expatriate, who is relatively new to town, knows that there is a Gala event on most nights of the week in DC. There are more non-profits than you can poke a stick at in the district and breaking through the fundraising clutter is as difficult as passing a bill through congress. What impressed me about the event was not the host of the awards Mr. Gary Sinise (who by the way became a tireless advocate for veterans after his role in Forrest Gump) but the founders Robin Kelleher and Shannon Maxwell. Two military wives that through tragedy found a need that needed to be filled and filled it.

In late 2004, Shannon's husband, LtCol Tim Maxwell, was severely wounded in Iraq after shrapnel from a mortar attack left him with a traumatic brain injury. Physical and emotional wounds created unanticipated short and long-term needs for their family and for many other families of wounded and fallen warriors that meet through their experience. In 2006, Hope for the Warriors was founded and in the few short years since, the organization has reached national success with a working budget of $2,500,000. It gives me new meaning to the Eurythmics classic "Sister are Doin' it for themselves". Not only are these sisters doin' it for themselves but they are doin' it for the wider military community.

The highlight of the evening for me last night was meeting Shannon and her husband Tim. I listened to them recap their own personal story and somehow retell it with no trace of bitterness in their voice. Tim talks candidly about his brain injury and one particularly humorous side effect he experiences from it - the uncontrollable need to constantly cuss (his words not mine, we in Australia refer to 'cussing' as swearing or having a potty mouth) and use profanities. If you can't feel free to swear after a traumatic brain injury, when can you bloody swear!