Making Wounded Warriors feel at home
By Janis El Shabazz, 340th Flying Training Group Public Affairs
/ Published October 05, 2016
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
The Warrior and Family Support Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas provides a safe, stress-free environment away from the hospital where wounded warriors remaining at the Brooke Army Medical Center for extended rehabilitation for severe injuries and illnesses can reconnect with their families and work on restarting their lives.
BAMC physicians recognized the vital role having family intimately involved in the rehabilitation process could play in helping to speed the recovery of the wounded warriors. Doctors also felt the recovering Warriors needed a place to spend some downtime away from the hospital.
With those thoughts in mind, the WFSC first opened in 2003 in 1,200 square feet of converted conference room space in the Powless Hall Guest House. With the help from generous donations and the Returning Heroes Home Project, wounded, ill and injured warriors, most of them recovering from injuries received in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, can now retreat to a WFSC building containing nearly 13,000 square feet which offers all the comforts of home.
“The designers of the new center wanted the recovering wounded warriors to feel like they were gathering in their living room with their family members,” said Jennifer Slack, Volunteer Coordinator for the WFSC. “Like all major military medical centers, BAMC has a Fisher House for family to stay while patients are going through treatment and rehabilitation, but the WFSC is quite another story. It offers the warrior and their family members a respite from the hospital to reconnect, walk in the sunshine, or just sit on one of the large porches where families and friends can spend time connecting, lunching, and engaging in activities that build well-being while the kids play nearby in a sizeable playground.”
The WFSC also includes a large social gathering area, kitchen facilities, a dining room, a learning facility for computerized training, a business center with high speed internet access, a game room, misting fans on verandas for service members with burns seeking fresh air, a 6,000-square-foot front and back veranda and private counseling rooms used to help warriors and their family members overcome difficulties and work toward healing and well-being. In Freedom Park, adjacent to the WFSC main building, there are running trails, workout stations and a variety of walking textures for those learning to walk with prosthetics and daily occupational and physical sessions with the Center for the Intrepid therapists to aid recovery.
“We try to make sure they want for nothing,” said Slack. “We schedule a myriad of events for the wounded warriors and their families each month. We always have a need for volunteers to help us maintain our Therapeutic Gardens and Freedom Park grounds. Groups or individuals who want to get involved can call Judith Markelz at 210-241-0811.