Tag Archives: Richmond VAMC

July 8, 2012 – Richmond

Car Loaded and Headed SouthHeaded SOUTH of the BORDER!  To Richmond VA Medical Center!

Did you know some of the patients from Walter Reed head on down to Richmond VA Medical Center aka Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center for further rehabilitation?  The medical center serves active duty combat patients on the Polytrauma, Spinal Cord, and PTRP units.  Family members stay in the Fisher House within easy walking distance to the facilities, or in hotels in town. Sometimes the patients are transported 121 miles to Walter Reed for additional surgeries or other medical care during their stay at Richmond.

We met a little before 9:30 AM in the parking lot and called Paulette and the Gunny to let them know we had arrived and then they come down with carts to help us unload.  While we were waiting, we talked with the Vets sitting outside getting some fresh air.  One we spoke with Sunday was an Army Veteran who had been with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.  He told us he comes down every morning to feed the birds, then asked us if we could help him figure out his cell phone.  Well, we tried…  I think Kathy was able to help him.  Sarah arrived soon and Mary Allen was right behind her, on her way to church, to drop some things off for us.  Carol and Harry were not far behind.

Buffet main dishesThe tables were set up when we got up to the room.  The red white and blue tablecloths were a nice touch. We moved some of the tables around to suit the way we planned to serve.  Main buffet table, then sandwich fixin’s and desserts on another table and on the third table we had the soup, the popcorn popper and the smoothie maker.

About the time we were ready to serve, Warriors, some with family members, began coming in.  One of the Soldiers’ moms asked me if we had been at Walter Reed.  I told her, yes, we do luncheons there monthly, and are at Richmond about 4 times a year.  She told us they had been to many of our luncheons at Walter Reed.  They are from North Carolina and her son’s whole family was there visiting – Mom, Dad, Aunts, Grandmother.

Fixin's and stuffThe Gunny brought up the microwave so we could heat the gravy and Paulette brought us ice to ice down the drinks and water.  The menu was roast beef and gravy, ham, chicken salad, and rolls and biscuits if they wanted to make sandwiches.  Potato salad, watermelon, tossed salad, potato soup, macaroni and cheese.  To top the meal off were blonde brownies with chocolate chips and pecans, marshmallow brownies, and peach pie.

Harry took care of the smoothies.  With the recent weather being so hot, they were a nice cool, refreshing drink. When he got down to the last little bit, not quite enough ingredients left to make a pitcher, he added some watermelon to the strawberries and yogurt and got a Thumb’s Up from the NC Soldier’s Dad.

The desserts were incredible.  I’m not sure what was the most popular, the marshmallow brownies or the pecan-chocolate chip blondies.


Popcorn and SoupThe atmosphere at the Richmond luncheons, after the initial setting up, is much more laid back than the 4 East luncheons.  With tables and chairs in the room, the families and patients are able to sit down and eat in the room with us, and we’re able to sit there and chat with them.  Paulette had music playing on a CD player.  One of the Soldiers’ wives was there with their two little ones.  The 4 year old entertained us with his dancing.  An Airman entertained us with stories of when he was deployed, not just in Afghanistan, but in Desert Storm.  The get together was nice, almost like having Sunday dinner at home with friends, except they are so far from home…


DessertsWe gave the Gunny the “Warrior Song – HARD CORPS” CDs and t-shirts to give to his Marines that an Elf and the Warrior Song Project  sent to us.  We handed out the note packets to all of the Warriors.

Then the Gunny surprised us with a Certificate of Appreciation.  That was really nice. Thank you!

We began packing up at 1300 and were on the road by 1430   Leftovers were packaged into take out boxes for later with Paulette and the Gunny’s help.

Today's luncheon crew.
Today’s Luncheon Crew: Sarah, Kathy, Harry, and Carol. Thank you! Job Well Done!

To our Supporters, thank you!  We could not do the luncheons without your help.  Time goes on, the war goes on, and you continue to support our Nation’s finest though Marine Moms-Bethesda.  Your donations directly support the Warriors and their families who have sacrificed so much in defense of our country.  There is no middleman taking a percentage of the funds, there are no administrative costs – these are out-of-pocket expenses for our volunteers, 100% of the donations directly support the luncheons.  NO one is making a profit off of the unfortunate circumstances our Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and their families find themselves in, and our volunteers do this out of a sense of stewardship and love for those so far from home learning to live their “new normal”.

To those we serve, never ever feel you are alone.  If you need anything, just ask.  There is help available for so many things you may need, from adapted homes to watering the plants at home while family is with you, but no one knows you need something if you don’t ask.  We honor you and are grateful for the opportunity to give back just a little to you for your service and sacrifice.

Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.

Love and Hugs,





March 5, 2012 – Richmond VAMC

The Best Laid Plans… 

March 5th weather forecast Semper Gumbiness!  It happens!  We’re used to it, have lots of experience with it, and have learned to flow with it, there are just some things we can’t control.

Originally the luncheon was scheduled for Sunday.  About five days before it was going to happen we learned we needed to change the date so  we switched it to Monday.  Oh, sure, we could have rescheduled for a later date, but the weather forecast looked great, some of the food had been bought, we had enough volunteers to help on a weekday, so we rolled with it.  I did tell everyone that if there was the slightest hint of snow flurries, I wouldn’t driving down.

My plans were to leave about 5 AM on Monday morning.  Sunday afternoon I checked the weather site… then kept checking it every hour or so.  From about 2 PM until 9 PM  the temps fell from just above freezing to just below freezing and the potential of a snow/rain/ice mix

Deciding not to attempt the long drive down and back, I called Janet to let her know and asked if they were up to the drive down. The rest of the luncheon crew live much closer to Richmond.  She said they were good to go.


Janet touched base after they arrived home and said the luncheon was a success, the patients and families were very appreciative, and the VA and Liaison staff were a fabulous to work with.

March 5th BuffetMenu:

Olives, cheese and crackers;

fresh veggie tray; a fruit bowl; vegetable beef soup;

ham and turkey  platters with sandwich fixin’s on the side; assorted rolls and bread;

macaroni and cheese, assorted desserts, drinks and smoothies.




From Janet:

Today came ‘In like a Lion’ and ‘Out like a Lamb’

Sarah, Mike, and I hit the road by 8:30AM this morning.   We were enjoying the light flurries and conversation while driving on 95 heading south to the McGuire Hunter Holmes VA Hospital in Richmond; that is until we hit Thornburg. 

The light flurries turned into a swirling blanket of snow which caused low visibility and our speed dropped to 45.  Every time a truck passed us our windshield would be covered with slush. 

snow on the trip downIf the temperature would have dropped, we would have been stuck in Richmond; but that didn’t happen.  The temperature gradually rose and we had smooth sailing all the way home.  We did call Paulette to let her know we hit snow and might be a bit late.

Arrived at the hospital at 10:00AM.  Paulette was there waiting with two carts.  We were up to the room and set up by 11:00AM.  Not bad for being slowed down by snow.

She continues:

We were cleaned up and on the road by 2:30.  Paulette and the Gunny were FABULOUS.  Great all around luncheon.

What a wonderful day, Jane.  One of my favorite times in Richmond.  All went so smoothly and so precious to be amongst those brave young men (and a few old timers).

Take care,


Thank you, Mike, Sarah, Carol, Janet (and Lew in the background!) for braving the weather to serve our wounded Warriors and their families at Richmond VA Medical Center!   Job Well Done! 

We are grateful to the VA staff and to the Marine Corps Liaison office for working with us and allowing Marine Moms-Bethesda the honor of coming in to show support for these brave young men who have given so much in service to our country.  Thank you!


This was Janet and Lew Skerry’s last luncheon with Marine Moms-Bethesda.

Thank you, Janet and Lew for your dedication and commitment helping with Marine Moms-Bethesda’s luncheons over the past two years. Your advice to us from the viewpoint of a family of a wounded Warrior has been invaluable.  We wish you fair winds and smooth sailing in your new endeavors.


Hunter Holmes McGuire aka Richmond VA Medical Center has a state of the art rehabilitation program serving our Nation’s combat wounded and active duty service members who incur catastrophic injuries.  One of the things Janet mentioned to me about the luncheon were the patients they met with severe Traumatic Brain Injuries. 

Eventually, they will recover to their “New Normal”, perhaps even possibly continuing on active duty.  Others will need long term care for the rest of their natural life.  Once these Warriors, still in the fight – just a different mission now – are medically retired they will transition into the civilian world and the VA medical system.

Brain Injury AwarenessTo raise awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), March is National Brain Injury Month.

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s website has beau coup bunches of information for those looking for information and help.  I encourage those interested, whether active duty, family member, care giver, or Veteran, to surf their site to see what is available.

There are also many, many other organizations providing help to those looking for it.

You are NOT alone.

To our “Elfs” – our supporters – Thank You! You are touching lives in ways you do not know.

Until next time, continued prayers for our military and their families.

Love and Hugs,


October 16, 2011 – Richmond VA Medical Center: Road Trip!

center piece

Up at OH-dark-thirty to reach Janet’s by 8:00 AM.  Took I-95 this time instead of 301 and made it in two hours… then anther hour from Janet’s.

Coming home, took Rt. 301 straight home and it took me 5 hours…

Beltway driving coming in from northern Virginia is not my favorite thing to do… may have to just gather my courage and do that next time, though.  If i can drive “The 5″ in California…

Janet, Mike, Lew, Carol, Mary Jane and I met in the parking lot at Hunter-Holmes McGuire and our contact took us over to the entrance to the multipurpose room where the luncheon would take place.

Wow… we were impressed!  Continue reading October 16, 2011 – Richmond VA Medical Center: Road Trip!

August 21, 2011 – Richmond PTRP: Headed South!

Bethesda to Richmond

One of our visions for Marine Moms-Bethesda has been to expand our mission to other military hospitals and VA medical centers.

We knew patients from Bethesda sometimes were moved to Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia to the spinal cord or polytrauma unit for the next step on their long road to recovery.

Last summer we learned about PTRP from Marines at Mercy Hall who had spent some time there.  With some of our volunteers living closer to Richmond than they do to Bethesda, this seemed like the next logical step for expansion.

Where there are wounded Marines, there is a Marine Detachment. There is a saying, “Marines Take Care of Their Own” and this extends to the Marines injured in war at VA hospitals.

It was good to see there is also an Army Liaison at Richmond VA Medical Center and nice to know that the Marine and Army Liaisons work together as needed to bring the best possible experience to all of our Warriors and their families.

I made contact with the Gunnery Sergeant and he was enthusiastic about a possible luncheon there.

“I take personal gratification in knowing that our Marine Corps community continues to run deep in the welfare of wounded, ill and injured Marines along with their families.”

We set a date, and early in July, Janet and I drove down to Richmond to tour the facility to see if hosting luncheons there would be feasible. Continue reading August 21, 2011 – Richmond PTRP: Headed South!