‘Just Us’

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***When a Soldier or Airman is an outpatient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center it can get quite boring.

LRMC isn’t exactly the most exciting place in the KMC and without
transportation and local acquaintances it can be hard to get anywhere.

This need went unnoticed until March when the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron
from the Pittsburgh National Guard deployed two 24-Airmen teams, with
one team going to Kuwait and the other to Germany.

While in Kuwait, a member of the team was injured and was brought here and admitted into LRMC.

He was quickly greeted by members of the team in Germany and they
wanted to help him in any way possible. It was soon discovered he
received a $250 gift certificate from the medical personnel who
transported him.

After members from his team took him to spend his certificate, they
asked if there were any more troops in need of transportation.
Realizing the value in what his team had come upon, Senior Master Sgt.
James Tidd, 32nd APS team chief, got the ball rolling on a program that
would give outpatient-Soldiers a chance to get out, see Germany and
spend their money.

“We identified a need and we took care of it by making contact with
LRMC,” said Sergeant Tidd. “Our APS members and our total force
partners really pitched in to make this program work.”  

As names for the program were being tossed around, one name stuck out
among the rest. The name was “Just Us.” It meant it’s “Just Us” taking
care of our own.

To get the program off the ground, Sergeant Tidd began searching for sponsorship.
Groups such as the Top 3, the Company Grade Officers Council, the 723rd
Air Mobility Squadron and various active duty personnel responded well
and got the program running.

One woman stood out above the rest in her efforts to help these troops.
Mama West, owner of a small restaurant in Ramstein village, offered to
let these troops come in every Tuesday to get a free meal.

“I use my restaurant as a bridge of troubled waters for these troops,”
said Mama West. “They come to Landstuhl to heal and they come here to
get a little taste of home and I know God will take care of the bill,
so they don’t have to.”

When the 32nd APS left Germany, the 723rd AMS stepped up and assumed
control of the program when Sergeant Tidd’s team left in July.

The program’s success now relies on donations and volunteers. Groups
are continually set up and travel to Landstuhl at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and
Wednesdays, 11 a.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. on Sundays.

Volunteers drive their own vehicles and the buddy system of two drivers is used.
“This program is a great thing, it gives us injured Soldiers a chance
to get out and be normal for a little bit,” said Army Sgt. Patrick
Gilbert, who was injured downrange. “It’s a great way of raising morale
and gives us a chance to see a little bit of the country.”

People interested in donating or volunteering for the program can e-mail program manager Staff Sgt. Deborah Elliott at deborah.