Andrew Wilson will forever remember the package he received while lying wounded, as a soldier in the U.S. military, in Landstuhl Hospital, an American military hospital located in Germany.
To those who have always been civilians, perhaps we would not understand the impact this delivery had, and still has, on Wilson, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. But to Wilson, who was injured and surrounded only by strangers, a box full of jeans and t-shirts meant so much.
The box was brought to Wilson courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Andrew Wilson, center, with his wife Dena and daughter Maddison
Wounded Warrior Project's mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. According to its website, the organization began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in needed. "What started as a desire to provide comfort items to wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has grown into a holistic rehabilitative effort to assist warriors with visible and invisible wounds as they recover and transition back to civilian life," the site states.
Wilson's special delivery in Germany was courtesy of the Wounded Warrior Packs program. This program is described as containing "essential care and comfort items including clothing, toiletries; all designed to make a Wounded Warrior's hospital or polytrauma center stay more comfortable."
After returning from overseas, Wilson spent approximately a year in the Warrior Transition Battalion. Wilson stated this is a small chapter located a short distance from Fort Bragg in which the military decides whether or not an individual returns to service after injury. During this time, the Wounded Warrior Project's dedication and attention to Wilson did not subside. Wilson had the opportunity to go on a fishing excursion, courtesy of WWP, and he also had opportunities to attend dinners and baseball games.
Wilson worked as a combat engineer in the army. His work as a combat engineer was to construct fighting positions, fixed and floating bridges, obstacles, and defensive positions. He also was to place and detonate explosives, conduct operations that include route clearance of obstacles and rivers, breaching buildings while also preparing and install firing systems for demolition and explosives, and detect mines visually or by mine detection.
Wilson's first tour from the military lasted from January 2010 to September 2010, and his second tour of duty took place the following year from January 2012 until spring of that year, when he was injured.
Wilson is back home now in Wileyville with his wife, Dena, and daughter, Maddison, who will turn three in June. Wilson said right now he is just looking for a job, and has "been putting in applications like crazy."
As for WWP, Wilson said he has been blessed by it and he said he could not think of just one favorite experience he has had, courtesy of WWP, but he stated that the backpack he received was especially meaningful, especially considering he had absolutely nothing when he arrived in Germany. "My clothes had to be cut off of me," he stated, adding that all he had was his dog tags.
Meanwhile, Jo Ellen Marlow, Wilson's mother, has decided to do what she can to spread the word about our nation's heroes and the sacrifices they have made. Marlow approached New Martinsville's Wal-Mart about implementing Wounded Warrior Parking for wounded warriors. Although the whole process took about four months, the parking has now been implemented and can be found just past the store's first entrance. The sign faces the river.
Those who want to find out more about Wounded Warrior Project should check out the organization's website at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.