LRMC volunteer mothers sick soldier

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

Pfc. Nicholas Shapiro, B Company 37th Infantry, was standing at the bus
stop smoking a cigarette near the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
Emergency Room. Karen Grimord, an American Red Cross volunteer, was
waiting for her bus to take her back to Ramstein Air Base when she
noticed Private Shapiro.

“He was having one of those cigarettes that was going kind of like
this,” she said, shaking her hand nervously as she imitated him. “He
was so nervous he was pale.”

Having a tube stuck down one’s throat and hernia surgery will tend to do that to a person – especially a 20-year-old.

“I told her I was here for hernia surgery and that I had no one around here that I knew,” he said. “No family, no nothing.”

“He told me it would be a lot better if his dad could be here with
him,” said Grimord. “But his dad couldn’t make it over for the surgery.”

That’s when she offered to step in as a surrogate parent and meet him
at the emergency room entrance, follow him to the operating room and
sit with him prior to and after his surgery. He took her up on the
offer and the two saw one another several times prior to the big day.

“We sort of became friends along the way, just talking and shooting the breeze,” he said.

On the day of surgery Grimord was right where she said she’d be. The
patient, however, wasn’t. He had overslept and was late to both the ER
and the OR.
His anxiety level rose and he said he figured he’d have to brave the
surgery alone. Little did he know that she was running around the
hospital trying to find a way to get in touch with him. Several minutes
after he made it to the OR, she showed up for him. Soon, he got his
anesthesia and was feeling more confident.

“All I saw from the back of the gurney (as he was being wheeled to
surgery) was a big thumbs up and I knew he was feeling all right,” she

She sat in his room and waited for him to come out of his haze after
surgery and when he did, the first person he saw was his surrogate

“He looked at me and his eyes were a little crossed from the
medication,” she said. “The first thing he said was, ‘I know you!’ It
made my heart swell bigger than my chest.”

To get that heart swell, she bought a plane ticket and left her family
in Virginia to come to LRMC and volunteer for 45 days. She has been
gathering and donating supplies to both downrange and LRMC for the past
year-and-a-half. She said she knew there was something more she could

“I get so fed up with the news,” she said. “All you hear is negative.
But you come here and talk to the servicemembers and it’s 98 percent
positive. I knew when I left the states that was the truth, but being
over here has reinforced that feeling for me.”

This isn’t her first stint with volunteer work, but she said it has
been her most rewarding. Oct. 19 was her last day at the LRMC
Chaplain’s Office. It’s a place she said she wasn’t quite ready to

“This is something everyone should do,” she said. “They are giving me
my freedom and I should give something back. This isn’t being nice,
it’s giving back. And I’ll be coming back.”