Diversity & Inclusion Specialist Shannon Simpson shares a heartfelt story about how the ShawVET Associate Resource Group made a tremendous impact on the lives of wounded warriors and Afghan children and babies.
My stepbrother Jonathan Wilson (TSgt, USAF Flight Chief, ERPSF) has been in the Air Force since before his father and my mother were married. He has been stationed everywhere from Germany to Japan. He plans to retire from the Air Force in another ten years or so, then enter a career in IT. His better half is my devoted, fearless sister-in-law, Andrea. They have two young sons Jackson (4) and Oliver who we call Odie (22 Months). Jonathan’s duty station is at Walter Reed Hospital.
In March of 2021, Jonathan was deployed to Qatar. It was a very hard time for our family.
Through my time as the D&I Specialist at Shaw, I knew our amazing ShawVET team had the Treats for Troops program, which sends deployed troops care packages filled with snacks, toiletries and other reminders of home. A package was sent to Jonathan, and I hoped it would make him smile on a hard day, but I never imagined what would happen next.
I was heading into the office one morning and saw an email from Ken Deupser, IT Manager and ShawVET member, letting me know he had received a message from Jonathan. Jonathan let Ken know that his wounded warrior patients at an En Route Patient Staging Facility did not have clothing for when they were being transported to higher grade medical facilities and that he and Stephen Morton, Director of Corporate Planning - Soft Surface and ShawVET Chair, were “already moving on it.” Immediately, I called my stepdad and mom to share some happy tears over how kind my coworkers are to not only send a care package but to answer the call for assistance from someone they did not know.
Ken and the ShawVET team sent multiple boxes of clothing, including Shaw t-shirts, to Qatar to help the cause. During this time, the United States exited Afghanistan, with thousands of refugees still on the ground. Jonathan was one of the many who delivered medical care to these people who desperately needed it. The donations that ShawVET sent ultimately helped wounded warriors, dressed Afghan children, and swaddled babies who took their first breaths in an airplane hangar.
I am very thankful for ShawVET’s support of Jonathan and their drive to go above and beyond. To show his appreciation for Ken and ShawVET, Jonathan had a flag dedicated to him that was flown on one of the last medical flights from Afghanistan to Qatar. Jonathan presented Ken with the flag upon his return to the United States last month.