***image2***Caring means more than distance, time and money to Navy Airman Elyse Braxton, an aviation maintenance administrationman, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron, (VR-52), Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, Willow Grove, Pa.
She travels more than 3,932 miles one way, spends anywhere from $300 to $1,200 for round-trip airline tickets and takes vacation time to help wounded Soldiers at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“I have a genuine love for the brave service- members who selflessly serve our country. I wanted to give something back and spread the love,” said Navy Airman Braxton, 38, who joined the Naval Reserves April 15, 2003. “It’s an honor to be in the presence of people who are willing to lay down their lives for me, my family, our country and this world.”
Navy Airman Braxton has traveled these distances, spent money and has taken almost 20 days of vacation time on three separate trips to Landstuhl. She has visited LRMC Aug. 4 to 8, 2003, Dec. 24 to 31, 2003 and most recently, Feb. 21 to 27, 2004.
“I was extremely surprised and very touched when she came here the first time,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Timothy Wiles, staff chaplain, Pastoral Services, LRMC. “I get requests for people to volunteer from our local community all the time; however, the extent of her personal sacrifice of time and money to come from the states to help others is significant.”
Navy Airman Braxton got the idea to visit wounded Soldiers at LRMC from the National Football League.
“I read in the newspaper that football players visited the troops at Landstuhl,” she said. “Not having the backing of the NFL or being ‘famous,’ made it harder to make the dream come true, but I networked with folks at Ramstein via the Internet to get me pointed in the right direction as to where I could go and who I could volunteer with.”
During her vacation trips to LRMC, Navy Airman Braxton helped the nursing staff and made sure patients had clothing items and toiletries from the Pastoral Services’ Clothing Closet.
She also talked, prayed and read Bible scriptures to wounded Soldiers.
“Airman Braxton has provided encouragement to our patients in more ways than I can recall,” said Chaplain Wiles. “She has stood alongside the chaplains in the middle of the night to greet wounded, injured and sick Soldiers.
“She has shared her warm smile, wonderful personality and a helping hand by distributing clothing, phone cards and comfort items,” he said. “She runs errands, shops and helps Soldiers with missing limbs to make phone calls and write e-mails. She shares meals, stories, laughter and tears.”
Navy Airman Braxton plans to return to LRMC for Christmas this year.
“To me, it’s just one big adventure full of love,” she said. “I mean it with all my heart when I tell someone, ‘It’s an honor to get you sweatpants.’”