Walter Reed stops accepting 'any wounded soldier' gifts
December 10, 2006
WASHINGTON — Officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center will stop accepting anonymous holiday gifts and cards for wounded patients there, citing administrative costs and security concerns.
All packages and cards delivered to “any wounded soldier” at the medical campus will be returned to their senders with a note explaining the program change and suggesting other charities. The change was enacted in the past week.
Packages sent to specific patients won’t be affected.
Center spokesman Terry Goodman said officials appreciate the donations, but staff simply cannot handle the distribution and monitoring of the packages. Last December, the hospital received more than 500,000 holiday packages and cards.
“A lot of that was not able to be delivered to the troops until weeks after the holidays,” he said. “It’s just too overwhelming.”
Goodman said officials believe donors will understand the security and logistical reasons behind the decision, and hope it will not affect their generosity. Program administrators are speaking with local charities about receiving some holiday donations for the wounded patients, but no decisions have been made.
The center’s medical family assistance center will still distribute some donations both with patients in Washington and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he said.
Meanwhile, officials have offered a list of Web sites of other charities where donors can send their gifts:
America Supports You charities: www.americasupportsyou.milThe USO: www.usocares.org/src/uso_donate.htmTo Our Soldiers: www4.army.mil/ocpa/tooursoldiersThe Red Cross: www.redcross.orgRules of what can and cannot be donated vary depending on the organization.
Maj. Gen. George Weightman, commanding general of the medical center, in a statement said the hospital staffers “appreciate everything the general public has done to support our soldiers.”
Walter Reed has treated more than 5,400 patients from Iraq and Afghanistan over the last five years, about 1,700 of whom have been battle casualties.