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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

For Immediate Release
Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Fund
By Eddie Fitzgerald and Bill Hand of the Sun Journal

New Bern, NC - December 12, 2013

Funds raised to send wounded warriors home for the holidays

Radio host Lockwood Phillips talks with Corporal Ben McCrosky, left, and wounded warrior Cpl. Chad Ohmer during the Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Fundraiser held Wednesday evening at New Bern Riverfront Convention Center. Phillips, a talk show host with 107.1 FM, was doing a live feed of his program. Ohmer is one of the men who benefited from the fundraiser.

By Eddie Fitzgerald/Sun Journal Staff
Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 19:22 PM.

People gathered in large numbers at New Bern Riverfront Convention Center Wednesday evening to show their support of wounded warriors and the sacrifices they have made. The gathering was the eighth-annual Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Fundraiser.

Donations people made to mingle with the warriors, veterans, local and state officials are used to send wounded warriors home for Christmas or, if they are too badly wounded, to bring their families to them over the holidays.

Steve Tyson, Craven County commissioner, said every year the faces on people supporting the wounded Marines and sailors “light up with enthusiasm.” Last year more than 200 wounded warriors got to go home for Christmas through the program, and probably just as many this year, Tyson said. “This is a good way to kick off the Christmas spirit,” Tyson said.

Chad Ohmer, 26, sat in a wheelchair talking to some of his buddies and veterans who came up to shake his hand. He was one of the beneficiaries of Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Benefit. Ohmer was with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines when he was wounded in 2012 while serving in Sangin, Afghanistan. They were on a foot patrol when one of the Marines was hit by an IED, or improvised explosive device. Ohmer went to his aid and was wounded when another IED exploded under the fallen Marine. The explosion damaged his left leg, resulting in muscle and tissue loss, nerve damage and traumatic brain injury. Ohmer said what New Bern and surrounding areas do for wounded warriors is overwhelming. “This is great,” he said. “It’s really wonderful. A lot of these guys, with all the medical problems they have going and mental problems, are able to go home because of this and see their families. It means a lot.”

Shawn Seguin was a sergeant in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines when he was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan. The explosion caused traumatic brain injury, he said. Like Ohmer, Seguin was also thankful for the support of everyone who attended the fundraiser. “It’s phenomenal,” he said. “Our guys will be able to go home for Christmas.” Seguin said he and his family would go to West Virginia for Christmas to see his wife’s family and let his mother-in-law see their baby for the first time.

Pat Little, national senior vice commander of the Order of the Purple Heart, came from Delaware to attend the benefit. “I’m impressed and I go to a lot of events,” he said. “Having this in the New Bern convention center is very nice.” Little said he wasn’t surprised at the large turnout and support in New Bern because it is a military area. “You might expect it,” he said. “But it is still good to see the support. The wounded warriors need to see the support.”

Bob Costa of New Bern and a Naval Weather Service veteran and member of the Disabled American Veterans, said the DAV is 100 percent behind the Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Benefit. “I think it is great,” Little said. DAV offers advice to the wounded young men because many of them may need the organization’s services in the future, he said.

N.C. Rep. Michael Speciale said he goes to the Wounded Warrior Christmas Leave Benefit every year. “I hope this will be the last time we have to do this,” he said.

Eddie Fitzgerald can be reached at 252-635-5675 or ateddie.fitzgerald@newbernsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @staffwriter3.

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, through veteran service, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Programs of the MOPH include VA Volunteer Service, First Responder Recognition, JROTC Leadership Award, Scholarships, Americanism, Purple Heart Trail and Cities, Welfare, and numerous community service programs, all with the objective of service to Veterans and their families.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, Jim Klug, 541-778-3480
MOPH on the Web
MOPH on Twitter

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