Residents support wounded veterans with a simple gesture

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Residents hosted a special guest in 2016—a local young Army veteran who shared his experience fighting in Afghanistan. He lost his arm in a battle and subsequently spent part of his recovery in a military hospital in Germany. Resident Joan McGee was eager to find out if he had received a small gift from California: a handmade pillow.

“That was a special morning when we met that young man,” says McGee. Because as it turned out, he not only had received his pillow, but to her delight, he was still using it.


For nearly two years, McGee and about dozen other Royal Oaks residents have carefully assembled pillows by hand and shipped them to the chaplain at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany as part of the Wounded Warrior Project. The pillows, beset with a Marine, Air Force or Army motif, is one of many sources of comfort and support that the Project provides a growing number of wounded veterans and their families. 


“It gives us such a great feeling,” she says. “There’s not a lot we can do but we know it’s appreciated.” 

McGee first heard about the idea through a friend at her local church, and she instantly decided she would introduce the program to her fellow Royal Oaks neighbors. She purchased the materials and supplies; she then assembled a group which has been preparing about a dozen pillows every three months since 2016. On average, McGee estimates they’ve have made nearly 100 pillows.

While McGee acknowledges they’re limited in what they can do for these soldiers, residents find great satisfaction in knowing their efforts remind soldiers how much their sacrifice is appreciated.

“I’m so proud of the work we’ve done and so proud of those involved,” she says. “I hope the Colonel will continue to let us make the pillows because it’s so much fun.”  

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