After my column last week about an Ogden friend whose son was badly wounded in Afghanistan, I got an email from a reader promoting "Blue Friday" to support the troops.
The idea is, you wear blue clothing on Friday. That's it. The soldiers are supported.
I told the guy that was nice, but my column proposed more solid support in the form of a national tax to pay for the costs of caring for wounded soldiers. I still think that's a great idea.
However you feel about the war, those soldiers and their families are making real physical sacrifices to fight it. Those sacrifices include lives, limbs and family financial security.
Families of wounded soldiers go nuts. My friend has been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for two weeks, as of this writing. Her son could be hospitalized a year.
Compared to that, pulling a blue shirt out of the closet and putting on some jeans doesn't feel like much.
It raises awareness, and I am fine with awareness, but after we are aware, what?
I asked my friend: "What can I tell my readers they can do to help?"
She said the Red Cross has been helpful, as has the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org). She also mentioned something called Operation Ward 57.
I really like that last one.
Ward 57 is the orthopedic unit at Walter Reed where they treat people who, like my friend's son, have lost limbs in the war.
Amputation by bomb is messy and leaves horrible injuries. Patients who've lost arms, legs, eyes, singly or in combination, undergo dozens of surgeries and intense daily care. Yearlong stays are common.
Their families are often right beside them. It has to suck.
About three years ago, a small group of people decided to do what they could to make Ward 57 life better.
Executive Director Brittney Hamilton said the goal of Operation Ward 57 is to work with patients and their families, as well as the staff.
Volunteers give patients and families T-shirts, blankets and caps because patients said they get cold. They stock a family room with videos and games. They help families out with money and generally try to make themselves useful. They organize activities such as concerts, work to bring in celebrities and stuff like that.
"It's about making the stay easier for them, because they're there so long," she said.
Operation Ward 57 is small, but its aid is direct and I like that. You give them $10, you know $10 is going to help a soldier.
So, here's my request: Instead of buying bumper stickers, blue clothing or little pins, let's give money to people helping our soldiers. If soldiers can give an arm or a leg, we can give money.
You can do this two ways.
All donations are tax deductible. If you go to www.operationward57.org you can donate directly. They even have a store where you can buy T-shirts.
Or, you can send me a check for any amount. Make the check out to "Operation Ward 57" and mail it to:
P.O. Box 12790
Ogden, UT 84412
Now, you are probably saying, "OK, Charlie, but you aren't riding your bicycle for this, and a column isn't worth any more than a bumper sticker. What will you do?"
Good question. Here's my answer:
I will match the first $200 in donations, dollar for dollar. You send me your money, I'll add mine and send it on.
Then we'll all really be supporting the troops, and if you still want to wear blue, go for it.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or email email@example.com. He also blogs at www.standard.net.