The Retiree Survivor Support Group completed “Project Thank You,” a multi-week effort to show appreciation to emergency services personnel, after presenting gift bags to Fort Leonard Wood first responders at an appreciation luncheon March 28.
The luncheon was the culmination of over a month of work, with members meeting back in mid-February for the initial assembly of the bags.
“We started coming up with ways for this group to feel like they were contributing or giving back to the military community,” said Jodeen Carmack, Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator. “Our group felt that there are several groups that often get used but not appreciated (enough) on post.”
Members of the RSSG are widows and widowers, some of whom were married to retired military personnel. The group is run by the Survivor Outreach Services which assists survivors of service members with emotional support, resource research and advocacy.
According to RSSG leader and Marine Corps retiree widow Katrinka Good, “Project Thank You” was just a small token of appreciation for the vigilance of the installation’s first responders.
“I feel this small project of the candy gift bags that were donated and assembled by several survivors, was a very warm way of giving back to those that have our backs from time to time,” Good said. “Knowing that we feel safe while on the fort and if needed their assistance has always been exceptional.”
Fort Leonard Wood Director of Emergency Services Lt. Col. Graham Swenson, alongside officers of the civilian police force, were in attendance for the event. Officers gave a short briefing to the group about driving safely and opened up a forum for any questions regarding gate procedures.
Good added that responders look out for the survivors she knows.
“They have reached out to our survivors many times — making sure we are safe on the roads by checking our cars for tire wear, bad wiper blades, and to check oil levels,” she said. “We, as survivors, want to say thank you for the over-the-top kindness that we have experienced.”