WTOP: Purple Heart ornaments provide lift for military members

By Kathy Stewart | WTOP | WTOP.com | November 20, 2011

WASHINGTON – One Christmas ornament party held this weekend was a big hit.

So many volunteers came out for Saturday’s Purple Heart ornament packing party at the Dale City Veterans of Foreign Wars post that the event — hosted by the Semper Fi Fund — ended early.

Ornament Packing Party 2011 photo by Susan Rocco

“It’s our honor to be able to do this,” says Susan Rocco, a case manager with the Semper Fi Fund — a nonprofit that assists injured Marines and sailors through the recovery process.

The ornaments are being shipped out to Marine Corps Purple Heart recipients — those who’ve been wounded after Sept. 11, 2001 — all over the world.

Tres Smith — a Purple Heart recipient turned Semper Fi Fund team member — says as he looked out at a room full of volunteers packing up ornaments, “the first thing to hit me was the number of envelopes.”

“I know that one of those envelopes is mine,” he says.

Last year, three months after getting out of the hospital, Smith received his holiday ornament. He says the Semper Fi Fund has been amazing to him.

“The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital was to figure out how I could get involved,” he says. Now he’s part of the team and helping other wounded warriors.

“I think about all those other people out there and what they’re going through,” he says.

Rocco says it’s important that men and women like Smith know they — and their sacrifices — are not forgotten.

“We’ve heard that these servicemembers get this and are just so happy to hear that people don’t forget,” she says.

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