“I didn’t think there were people like you out there who care so much about people you have never met,” a wounded warrior soldier said last Friday to a group of firefighters from Lynbrook and other areas of Nassau County.
The firefighters traveled from Long Island to Fort Belvoir, Va., to bring Christmas to wounded soldiers assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion at the U.S. Army base.
The firefighters are part of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, a 501-C3 charity formed in 2004 to help servicemen and women wounded in battle. Each year the Nassau firefighters travel down the east coast to military hospitals and installations to bring Christmas to wounded warriors.
The firefighters were at Fort Belvoir to throw a catered Christmas party at the base’s USO Hall for 30 soldiers and their families. Santa Claus was also on the trip, and gave each soldier an I-Pad while their children received many toys, which had been carefully wrapped by the firefighters. The toys were donated by the Long Island branch of the American Public Works Association.
One soldier told the firefighters that they “gave me and my family a Christmas we were unable to afford this year.” Another said, “You have made a difference in our Christmas and [we] can’t thank you enough for remembering us.”
Before traveling to Fort Belvoir, the firefighters brought Christmas presents and cheer to more seriously wounded soldiers in their hospital beds at the Walter Reed National Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md. While these firefighters were at Bethesda, and later at Fort Belvoir, even more Nassau firefighters were at the hospitals and rehabilitation centers at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejuene in North Carolina.
A Camp Lejuene Marine sent a thank you to the firefighters at their website, NCFF-OWW.org, on Friday after their visit. “Thank you all so much for everything that you’ve done for us,” the letter reads. “I cannot express enough how much it means to us. All of the items you’ve given us helps more than you can fathom.”