Personal Shoppers Bring Comfort to Hospitalized Troops
|By Jennifer Johnsen, HQ AAFES Public Affairs|
DALLAS – Since the beginning of the war on terror in September 2001, almost 13,000 troops have been injured in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. Sadly, many of those troops are evacuated from contingency locations to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany often with no personal belongings, other than the clothes they are wearing. With the help of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s (AAFES’) implementation of Public Law 1559, many evacuated patients are assisted by AAFES personal shoppers who supply them with the items they need.
“Wounded service members don’t even have to leave the hospital. We go to the Exchange and bring fresh and comfortable clothing to Landstuhl’s wounded service members,” said Christine Curry, AAFES associate and personal shopper. AAFES associates assist injured service members by visiting AAFES shopping centers at Ramstein AB or Vogelweh Military Complex to pick up clothing and shoes. “This program is a great morale booster, especially since it’s unexpected,” adds Curry. “Several of them have invited us back to check out the clothing they are wearing as they prepared to leave for home.”
A clothing request form is used to indicate each service member’s sizes, such as waist and length for pants, shoe size, and normal shirt size. The service members can also request special items that make their injuries more comfortable such as sleeveless shirts for arm and shoulder injuries, loose shorts or zip away pants for leg injuries, and hats or scarves for head injuries. Most service members request comfortable clothing such as athletic shorts, t-shirts, and wind suits, for stays in the hospital, and jeans and a polo shirt for the trip home. Levi’s jeans, Dockers slacks, and ankle socks are the most requested items.
Section 1319 of Public Law 1559 allows AAFES to allocate $250 towards the purchase of civilian clothing to qualifying service members who arrive at several military hospitals. To qualify for the allotment, service members must be medically evacuated from Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, or Iraqi Freedom. Ramstein Air Base Exchange has processed 14,364 vouchers since the bill was passed in April 2003.