By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Sacrifice is defined by dictionary.com as “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something having a higher or more pressing claim.”
Anyone who has served in the military understands what it is to sacrifice. Great or small, all service men and women have had to make a sacrifice for the sake of the mission. Unfortunately, some have had to give more than others.
Students at the Schriever School Age Program decided they wanted to give something back to those members who had been wounded or injured while serving and presented artwork to four members of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a small ceremony here Aug. 21.
“The youth came up with the idea to make artwork to honor the Wounded Warriors,” said Vicki Rygiel, SAP coordinator.
Rygiel said a visit from the Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center, to explain what services they offer to families, sparked the idea when the youth heard about AFW2. Thirty-nine youth helped create the 19 pieces of art given to the program members.
Prior to the art presentation, the AFW2 members in attendance, Lt. Col. John Matthews, Staff Sgt. Andrew Clark, retired Tech. Sgt. Timothy McDonough and retired Staff Sgt. Chris Wolff, shared their experiences with the SAP youth. The theme of their presentation was, “Never give up.”
“Every time someone tells me there’s something I can’t do, that makes me go out and want to do it more,” McDonough said. “That’s what really motivates me and drives me forward.”
McDonough said he was impressed with the kids’ effort put into their artwork.
“It’s phenomenal to see these kids come out and put all of their thought and their effort into doing something like this for us,” he said. “It makes what we fought for much easier.”
The AFW2 members also took questions from the youth.
“[They] all have children and families of their own and were very gracious answering every last question,” Rygiel said.
While many of the questions centered on McDonough’s service dog, Bailey, one, in particular, seemed to really get at the heart of why the ceremony was taking place.
“What motivated you to keep going after you were hurt?”
While each answer was unique in its own way, they all shared the “Never give up,” theme shared earlier.
“My kids and proving the doctors wrong,” McDonough said.
“I wanted to serve again,” Matthews answered.
“A doctor told me I would never breathe, walk or do anything on my own ever again,” Wolff said. “My motivation was to prove them wrong.”
“You guys are what motivate me,” Clark added. “I have two little ones just like you guys and I was going to come home [to them].”
AFW2 is often confused with the Wounded Warrior Project. AFW2 is an Air Force funded program, while WWP is a nonprofit charity organization. The mission of AFW2 is to provide personalized care, services and advocacy for seriously wounded, ill and injured members.
“One of the mistakes people tend to make is to identify our program as the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Denise O’Connor, AFW2 recovery care coordinator. “They are not one and the same.”
McDonough said he’s participated in similar ceremonies at his children’s school, but had never been presented with artwork before.
“This is the first time they’ve all done artwork for us, which I think is absolutely awesome,” he said. “It’s having a piece of each one of these kids with us to validate what we did. It’s really amazing, it really is.”
For more information about the AFW2 program, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil or call 800-581-9437