–Joseph R. Schneider, MD, PhD, a vascular surgeon at Cadence Health in Winfield and Geneva, Ill., and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS), has recently returned from his fourth trip to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) located near Kaiserslautern, Germany. While there, he helped care for U.S. military members and dependents, including those who needed urgent care after being critically injured in Afghanistan.
His wife Shanda Pool-Schneider, a registered nurse, has accompanied him on three trips to the LRMC. “When I initially asked Shanda in 2008 what she would think about me spending two weeks volunteering in Germany, she immediately asked what she could do to help,” said Dr. Schneider. “She decided to give her time to the LRMC Chaplain’s Closet, which provides personal items such as clothing, blankets, shoes, and toiletries to the wounded.
“I volunteer at LRMC because these brave young men and women pay a tremendous price to be the instruments of policy and they deserve the best care that we can give them,” said Dr. Schneider. “On those occasions when a vascular problem is somewhat less familiar to the trauma surgeons there, the presence of a vascular surgeon may improve the chances for a successful outcome.
“I have great respect and admiration for the soldiers and the medical staff who take care of the military down range (near the battlefield), during transport to LRMC, and from LRMC to the U.S. hospitals,” added Dr. Schneider. “I am happy to be of service and assistance to the military physicians and staff as well as the injured soldiers. This is the essence of surgery–when you are presented with a problem just take care of the problem.”
Pool-Schneider noted that combat casualties from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and later Operation Iraqi Freedom sometimes arrived with only the clothes on their backs. “When the Chaplain's Closet was started in 2002 by nurses, everything was literally stored in a closet and bunkers near the Chaplain's Office, thus the name,” she said. “Items from the Chaplain’s Closet are new, unused, and donated by generous U.S. citizens. There are many beautiful handmade quilts sewn by many quilt and church guilds. It gives the warriors a message that they are loved and cherished back home.
“It is a joy to give a wounded warrior daily essentials and a warm quilt. Sometimes they just need to talk and converse about their experiences and it can be very emotional to hear their stories,” added Pool-Schneider. “Donations have grown to include everything from phone cards, quilts, sweat suits, shoes and duffel bags, and CD’s and DVD’s available to help patients pass the time. Patients can shop for themselves or staff can deliver items to their rooms.”
She noted that donations can be sent from U.S. post offices to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Chaplain’s Clothes Closet, Unit 33100, APO AE 09180. Clothing and toiletry items for female soldiers are in especially short supply and are greatly appreciated.
“As long as the LRMC volunteer program continues and we are needed I know we will continue to come back,” said Dr. Schneider.
The LRMC is a stopping point where soldiers can be stabilized before returning to military hospitals in the United States. It is the largest American military hospital outside the United States and an American College of Surgeons Level 1 Trauma Center. Since 2001, the medical staff at LRMC has treated more than 64,000 patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Since September 2007, a total of 100 SVS members have volunteered to provide vascular surgery consultation and assistance at the LMRC.
About the Society for Vascular Surgery
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for more than 4,600 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at www.VascularWeb.org®.