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thedrifter
11-17-06, 08:04 AM
Local group raising money for 'CDs for GIs' holiday gift campaign
Fundraiser to provide injured, disabled military personnel CD players, headphones and CDs
Published Thursday November 16 2006
By MAUREEN SIMPSON
The Island Packet

Each month, hundreds of wounded servicemen and women leave the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a different sort of battle at military hospitals both stateside and abroad.

And this holiday season, some area residents are working to ensure that they don't face this recovery time alone.

"The kind of injuries these soldiers are coming back with are hideous, but people don't really talk about a way to do something directly for these people," said Steven Weber, chief investment officer of The Bedminster Group -- an investment and financial adviser headquartered in Bluffton that has organized a holiday gift campaign called "CDs for GIs" to support injured soldiers from all the branches returning home from war.

The campaign, which began in October and runs through the beginning of December, is to collect donations to purchase CD players, headphones and CDs as gifts for wounded and disabled soldiers from the Lowcountry and across the nation. The CD players and CDs will be sent, along with a list of donors, to The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes -- a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created to provide individuals and corporations with a way to help severely wounded and disabled veterans and their families rebuild their lives.

So far, The Bedminster Group has collected more than $5,000.

Weber said the idea for "CDs for GIs" came about when a client, Sun City Hilton Head resident Jody Swan, suggested the group do something to support the troops instead of throwing a holiday party for clients like they have done in years past. Swan told him her daughter and niece, whose husband is a major general in the armed forces, had recently visited a military hospital in Maryland to see these wounded soldiers and felt the veterans deserved to know they were not forgotten.

"My daughter said it was a shame that these boys just laid there and a lot of them didn't even have visitors," Swan said. "She saw the need and I just carried it over to (Weber). I think the CDs are a good idea, because music helps you remember the more pleasant parts of life. You can attach it to a lot of good things that have happened to you.

"You just have to kind of once in awhile reach out and help somebody."

One local resident who can speak to the relief such gifts can help to provide is retired Maj. General Roger Sandler. In March of 2005, he and his wife, Jane -- whose sons are stationed in Germany and Iraq -- delivered a $7,500 donation on behalf of the Sun City Veterans Association to the Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany. The hospital is the first evacuation point for wounded troops coming out of the Middle East.

Often, he said, the donations are used to buy new items of clothing and duffel bags for the soldiers, who typically end up at the hospital with nothing more than the clothes that have burned to their skin or been stripped away for surgery.

"It's depressing," Sandler said. "We saw several soldiers with horrific injuries. ... Even though there's a lot of opposition to the war doesn't mean there's opposition to these troops. I think it's important that they know people support them. It's meaningful to them when people take the time to stop and say thanks."

Ellie