First-year physician assistant student Amber Faherty knows what a package of baby wipes and a box of granola bars can mean to a deployed soldier. She joined the U.S. Navy at age 17 and became a corpsman, a medical specialist serving the Navy and the Marines. Her five years of active duty and three years in the reserves gave her extensive medical training, post-traumatic stress disorder and heartfelt fidelity toward fellow members of the military.
“When you’re deployed, the best thing is when you hear your name during mail call,” she says. “Care packages would make your day.”
With that in her mind and heart, Faherty invited her classmates via e-mail to join her in “adopting” an American troop. Classmate Megan Sanders suggested the troop of her cousin, Scott Rhead; the troop’s commander had died of an apparent suicide two days before Christmas.
“I knew it was probably a pretty devastating situation with the holiday,” Sanders says. “Because they were such a small unit, I thought it was the least we could do.”
The physician assistant Class of 2014 has since sent regular care packages to Rhead’s troop. They also supported a campaign by DMU’s Student Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (SAMOPS) late last fall to create care packages for deployed members of the University community.
“In the military, we feel a sense of commitment toward one another. We often view each other as extended family,” said SAMOPS Vice President Justin Chaltry, D.O.’15, in a communiqué to the campus in November. He is a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves. “As a military officer and student here, I feel the same way concerning our community at Des Moines University.”
That campaign resulted in 16 boxes of magazines, DVDs, candy and other treats that were sent to three deployed DMU family members.
“We had a huge amount of donations from our staff and student body and had several alumni donate checks so that we could purchase even more to send out,” Chaltry says.
Faherty hopes such efforts also have an impact on Americans at home: reminding them of those who serve their country.
“The thing that’s most important to me is to not forget,” she says.