Wounded service members receive funds to go home for holidays

10 Jan 2013 | Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

Wounded service members who rate a Purple Heart award were given funds to go home during the holiday season through the Military Order of the Purple Heart Dec. 13 in Jacksonville, N.C.

The MOPH invited service members wounded in combat to attend a check-writing event to give back to those who may not have much money for traveling.

“We raised money with various fundraisers throughout the year, and now we are giving to the wounded warriors who showed up here,” said Verl Matthews, the commander of the order’s Chapter 642 in Jacksonville. “We will pay for 80 percent of their plane tickets home, or 40 cents per mile if they choose to drive.”

The service members greatly appreciated the financial help, since some of them haven’t been able to visit family back home for more than a year.

“It’s a huge help and a nice relief to not have to stress out about how we’re going to be able to go home,” said Sgt. John Dozier, a Marine with Wounded Warrior Battalion – East, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Dozier was injured in an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan in 2011. “This is the first year I am a part of this, and I’m extremely grateful.”

Members of the MOPH in attendance wrote checks for the wounded warriors and checked their documentation to make sure they are Purple Heart recipients.

“We have the greatest community in the world here,” said Jim Casti, a national welfare officer with MOPH. “They made it possible for us to be able to donate this amount of money to the people who really need it.”

Matthews estimated MOPH raised $369,000 to donate to the Purple Heart recipients.

“It’s a great feeling to know the community here is military-friendly to the point they’ll donate enough money for us to be able to do this,” said Rosie Noel, a junior vice commander with MOPH. Noel is the first female gunnery sergeant to be awarded the Purple Heart. She received it while in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

MOPH held this event for the last six years, and they look forward to continuing it in the future.