Good Samaritan Physical Medicine Department Making Positive Impact on the Lives of Soldiers Overseas

More than 12 boxes of food and personal care products have already been shipped to soldiers overseas thanks to the efforts of Good Samaritan’s Physical Medicine Department. Since the departure of one of their fellow co-workers, Josh Helderman, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, the team at Good Samaritan has been diligently working to provide needed personal care items to soldiers in Afghanistan.

Helderman, a Detachment Sergeant of Combat Operational Stress Control, left for Afghanistan this past June to oversee the functions of his unit, train Behavioral Health Technicians and provide psycho-education classes to all service members in the combat theater. He and his team provide Traumatic Event Management to units, advise and consult command teams to address morale and behavioral health concerns, such as suicidal ideation. They also deliver individual counseling to address Combat Operational Stress Reactions, as well as, coping mechanisms to increase resiliency and maintain a productive fighting force.

“I learned several years ago that my God given purpose in this world is ‘to be for others’”, said Sergeant Helderman. “As a prior medic, addressing the physical wounds seemed easy, but it’s the wounds that people can’t see that need the most attention.”

The combat environment and lifestyle of these soldiers has taken a toll on their ability to open up and speak about their mental state. Realizing the lack of communication occurring between himself and the men and women he was seeing, Sergeant Helderman decided to offer the soldiers snacks and other personal care items that allowed them to relax and speak more freely with him.

“I started to see that when I was able to give them some personal care items they can use to take a shower, or a snack to eat from home, they were much more likely to speak with me about their time fighting in Afghanistan,” said Sergeant Helderman.

Telling his co-workers back home at Good Samaritan about his time overseas, Helderman mentioned the lack of hygiene products and comfort items available to the soldiers. The Physical Medicine Department then decided to take it upon themselves to help.

Tara Cardinal, Occupational Therapist, along with Physical Medicine Supervisor's Clara Biehl and Amy Pfoff, got the ball rolling and started collecting donations from hospital departments and employees. “Many departments have donated numerous items and we have also received donations from community businesses and our own administration as well,” said Cardinal. “The Vincennes VFW paid for the shipping costs to mail seven of our boxes overseas, which is really helpful since it costs $18 to send one box.”

In addition to collecting supplies, the Physical Medicine Department decided to sell t-shirts and buttons with the American flag and hospital logo to employees. So far, the profit from the sale of these items has reached $857 and additional monetary donations given to the department total $275. The proceeds from the sales, in addition to the monetary donations, will be used to pay for shipping costs and/or to purchase more supplies.

“It has been overwhelming to see the donations pouring in,” said Cardinal. “The amount of support we have seen from our fellow employees and the community is heart warming. Everyone speaks highly of Josh and wants to do what they can to help.”

“I’ve always been told that it’s the simple things in life that matter, and I couldn’t agree more,” added Sergeant Helderman. Until you have seen a service member get excited over a favorite childhood snack, you really have no idea how big of an impact the little things make.”

The Physical Medicine Department is still collecting items and monetary donations. Those who wish to donate can do so by bringing items to the department located at the 6th Street entrance of the hospital. The department is mainly collecting personal care items, but will accept other supplies that can be shipped and are non-perishable, non-alcohol and non-aerosol.

Categories: News