Welcome Back, Adopt-A-Platoon Soldiers!
North Shore-LIJ Health System supported 15 U.S. Army platoons from the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York, during their arduous year-long deployment to Afghanistan. Over the past year the health system sent to these soldiers hundreds of care packages consisting of everything from personal hygiene items (toothpaste, razors) to food (candy, beef jerky) to high-end electronics (iPads)! The troops we supported redeployed back to the U.S. in September.
The soldiers were members of Army Aviation and Engineer units. The aviators had a variety of missions during their deployment, ranging from close air support for soldiers in combat to aerial reconnaissance to route clearance. They even had a mission to provide aerial security during a presidential visit and saw Air Force One land from the air. These pilots are known as the “grunts of the sky” and are respected for their toughness, but the tons of candy they received from North Shore-LIJ inspired them to plan a different type of mission.
The pilots and crew organized what they called “Operation Candy Strike.” During this operation they flew over various villages in Afghanistan and “bombed” them with bags of candy and stuffed teddy bears for Afghan children. The kids came running from all directions to scoop up the loot. Imagine the impact this had on the poverty-stricken children of Afghanistan! Big green American helicopters air-dropping gifts – these kids can only dream of something like that. Stories like this go back to World War I and World War II, when even the children of the enemy usually saw the American soldiers as “friendly,” and epitomize the U.S. effort to win the hearts of the local population.
The Engineers (also called Sappers) we supported had a variety of missions as well, but were primarily in Afghanistan to teach the Afghan army how to check and clear roads for buried bombs. The soldiers reported that the Afghan military forces were eager to learn and worked hard to pass on new knowledge to their fellow soldiers.
As a former soldier who deployed to Iraq a long time ago, I can tell you that the contents of the packages I received were greatly appreciated – but the intent behind the packages is what really raised my morale. Knowing there were people back home that supported us was extremely important to me. North Shore-LIJ truly stepped up to make the same impact on the lives of these soldiers. One soldier, CPT Wes Pritchett, summed it up pretty well: “The fact that your jobs already require such compassion and selflessness – yet you’ve taken the extra time to support us – speaks bounds about all of your characters and is truly inspiring. It makes us proud to be doing what we’re doing over here, thanks to great Americans like you back home.”
We are eager to support other platoons that will be deploying to Afghanistan in November, and thank the troops and their families for their service and the sacrifices they continue to make for our country.
To learn more, please call Andrew Roberts at (516) 562-3235.
Honor Flight Network
Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices. The organization transports our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans — World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.
On June 5, 2010, the Office of Military and Veterans Liaison Services joined a group of 25 guardian volunteers and 30 World War II veterans to visit their memorial in Washington, DC. Guardians assisted the veterans with getting on and off planes and buses and getting them to the memorials in Washington, DC. We were honored to assist our World War II heroes, many of whom stated this was one of the best days of their lives.
2010 Military Health System Conference
In January, Joseph Schulman, Dr. Sandra Kaplan, Elysa LeBron, LCSW, and Randy Howard represented North Shore-LIJ at the 2010 Military Health System Conference held in Washington, DC, which provided healthcare professionals a platform to share knowledge and improve best practices. The conference focused on sharing knowledge and achieving breakthrough performance in health-care delivery, research, education, and training.
New York National Guard Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Retreat