Spouses unite

Courtesy Maria Reed, whose husband, Staff Sgt. Patrick Reed, is deployed to the Middle East with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, shows off some of the items she and other military spouses gathered for Hurricane Harvey refugees Aug. 29 at the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel.

Courtesy Photo

KILLEEN — When Hurricane Harvey began barreling through southeast Texas, causing catastrophic destruction, Julie Moser knew she wanted to help.

Moser, the founder of nonprofit Pink Warrior Angels — an organization that helps victims of breast cancer through the chemotherapy process — and an Army spouse, searched on Facebook for ways to help Aug. 29. There, she found yet another Army spouse looking to help out who was telling a wonderful story.

“A friend of mine went to the store to buy stuff, and people started stopping us and paying for the bills,” said Maria Reed.

“They were on Facebook Live, which is how I saw them,” Moser said. “I was like, oh my gosh this is amazing.”

The two women got together within a matter of minutes and decided they needed to do something, something more than just a few spouses, Reed said. So they decided to start a movement that same day on Facebook called Operation Mil Spouses Unite and went to the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel on post to see if they could use the chapel as a drop-off point for donations.

“Now we’ve been getting calls from stations — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard — in places like Okinawa, Shaw Air Force Base (South Carolina) and (Marine Corps Base) Camp Pendleton (California); people wanting to know what they can do to get military spouses together and unite,” Reed said. “That’s what we do — as military spouses, we mobilize. If there’s a problem, if something happens on our street ... That’s just what we do, mobilize and start helping.”

Moser’s nonprofit already had a large number of the items that would be needed for the refugees, everything from personal care items to socks and undergarments. With an established nonprofit able to quickly restock needed supplies, she and her fellow members of Pink Warrior Angels decided to donate all they had in stock immediately.

Between the two women and Facebook, donations began coming in immediately and within 24 hours, the chapel was calling and asking just how big the drive was going to get, Reed said.

“And it wasn’t just here. Military installations all over the world are jumping on board,” Reed added. “It’s all for Harvey — in many cases, they are shipping (donations) to me, personally, and I’ll take it out to wherever it needs to go.”

Reed — whose husband, Staff Sgt. Patrick Reed, is currently in the Middle East with 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division — said they arrived from Fort Benning, Georgia a little more than a year ago. Fort Hood was the first duty station in Texas for them, and they had no idea what to expect of the state.

“The only other time I had seen anything like this (outpouring of support) was during 9/11,” Reena said. “I was actually supposed to be in Tower 2, but I was late for work that day. I saw this kind of outpouring there, but I had not seen anything like it since and now I’m seeing it here.”

And Moser said they weren’t just gathering items for the people, but for the refugees’ furry friends as well.

“I’m a dog person, but we also put out we need stuff for cats,” she said. “Someone went out and got a 30-pound bag of cat food and I was like, they make bags that big for cats? I didn’t know that!

“It’s the same thing with the horse rescues, and the cattle,” Moser continued. “All the farm animals you forget about, too.”

Moser said she never would have been the type of person to step out of her comfort zone and volunteer until she was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. When she became a survivor, she started Pink Warrior Angels, which helped her come out of her shell. Now, she volunteers full time with her nonprofit and tries to help out in any way she can.

Reed agreed about the need to volunteer and come together, especially as military spouses, for a good cause.

“To me, seeing Americans, people not looking at color, creed, nationality ... It doesn’t matter, especially after that big, drawn-out thing with (Charlottesville) Virginia,” Reed said. “Now, social media has completely flipped sides and Texas is leading the way. When we first got orders here, my husband and I were like, do our time and get out of here. We uh, bought a house, we’re staying.”

The generosity inspired Reed and Moser to unite military spouses across all branches of service, and the speed with which those spouses responded was as amazing to see as the volunteers helping each other in the affected regions of southeast Texas, they said.

“We’d heard from other military spouses, saying I don’t know where to give, I don’t know how to give, I can’t give a lot,” Reed said. “I said, it doesn’t matter. Give your time. Time doesn’t cost anything, but if we come together, we are stronger together.”

For more information about Operation Mil Spouses Unite or to find out what donations are still needed, contact reed at maria@movingwiththemilitary.com. For more information about Pink Warrior Angels, go to pinkwarriorangels.org.

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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