Offering Comfort to Injured Vets
John Lindblom, Record-Bee staff
Thursday, June 30, 2005
KONOCTI HARBOR -- T-shirts. Simple apparel. Just slip one arm in and then ...
To veterans of the Gulf War who must wear splints and specialized 'fixators' under their garments while undergoing treatment for orthopedic injuries, it hasn't been that simple.
But it's getting better. Thanks to a woman, Virginia 'Ginger' Dosedel of Plano, Texas, who is heading up an effort to provide T-shirts that these veterans can wear in comfort. And thanks to Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, which, through its Sea Breeze Foundation, has become a principal supporter of this program.
This week, Konocti Harbor Resort provided 300 T-shirts mostly for convalescing Gulf War veterans in Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Washington, D.C.
'It's more a matter of comfort than medical necessity,' said Dosedel, who began providing specially altered clothing to veterans pants, boxer shorts and now T-shirts through her organization, 'Sew Much Comfort' six months ago.
The apparel is a welcome alternative to hospital gowns. Sew Much Comfort designs, creates and delivers the clothing to the soldiers, providing them the chance to return to a level of dignity and normalcy that hospital gowns simply can't deliver.
By purchasing the shirts, as it did on April 26, the resort took a lead role in efforts to brighten the world of the injured veteran. A biomed company in New Jersey has purchased 200 T-shirts.
'We are hoping that in the future this will spark interest among other corporations,' Dosedel said. 'No one provides this clothing and it is not commercially available that I know of.
'Veterans are comfortable without them, but more comfortable with them. You're going to be more comfortable in pants that allow you access to your prosthetic or in a T-shirt that fits.'
The Konocti Harbor connection, Dosedel said, stems from the fact that Konocti's General Manager Greg Bennett is her husband's cousin.
But Konocti's Sea Breeze Foundation already has something for veterans in place. With its 'Dream Visit' program the resort hosts injured service people and provides a memorable experience. A Santa Rosa soldier, Dan Hennings, will be one of the veterans to be honored. A female soldier, Dawn Halfaker, who lost an arm in a rocket attack, will be a guest of the resort later in the summer. Halfaker, 26, was featured on page one of USA Today and was a guest on the Montel Williams show.
Dosedel said that her son Mike originally inspired her program.
'He was diagnosed with cancer and part of his treatment was radiation,' she said. 'Because of the radiation, one leg didn't grow. He was so uncomfortable that a friend of mine created pants for him to wear and taught me how to do that. Then, when Mike saw the soldiers, he said, Mom, you gotta sew for them.''
Since then, Sew Much Comfort has emerged as a small group of women who contribute their time and materials to make clothing for injured soldiers.
Such programs are seen as a part of a more global effort to aid veterans.
'So far people have been outstanding,' said Sgt. Jack Snowden of the 579th Battalion of the California National Guard. 'In the first Gulf War, there wasn't a lot of support and when people got back, It was kind of like, You're done. Thanks for your service. Have a nice life.''
'They're doing a lot better now,' said SSG Randy Dale, also of the 579th. 'There are a lot more people willing to help.'
By John Lindblom at email@example.com.