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
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.