Air Force civilian receives Spirit of Hope Award

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stan Parker
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
Air Force leaders presented a civilian employee with a Spirit of Hope Award Oct. 27 for enhancing the quality of life of injured service members and their families.
The award is named in honor of Bob Hope, the first honorary veteran of the U.S. Army for his 50-plus years of entertaining troops, both in peacetime and in combat zones.

Each year, the five services and the Department of Defense can nominate individuals or organizations for the award that consists of a bronze or silver medal with a bas relief of Mr. Hope. This year, the Air Force's award went to a financial analyst assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, for epitomizing honor, integrity, selfless dedication and outstanding service to the United States of America. 

Virginia "Ginger" Dosedel is the founder and executive director of "Sew Much Comfort," a non-profit charitable organization providing adaptive clothing to severely injured returning service members. Based on a suggestion by her then 11-year-old son, a cancer survivor suffering from numerous surgical procedures, she started with a simple vision to make specialized adaptive clothing. Ms. Dosedel began with a small group of volunteers that has grown to more than 1,000 seamstresses, creating more than 100,000 garments to cover prosthetics for wounded warriors.

Ms. Dosedel also recognized a need for adaptive clothing at combat hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically to support injured children in those countries. So she created a second non-profit organization called "Children's Comfort Sewn." Through the garments provided to hospitals and medical centers around the globe by both organizations, she has helped restore pride and dignity to injured service members and children.

Before Ms. Dosedel was presented the award, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley spoke about the distinguished service Mr. Hope provided armed forces members around the world, and how the award recipients have honored his spirit and memory.

"The men and woman we honor today have internalized Bob's vision of service to others," Secretary Donley said. "Thank you for your service and for your enduring commitment to our communities and for honoring those who continue to serve our country." 

Linda Hope, daughter of the award's namesake, shared Secretary Donley's sentiment about how the award recipients have done great deeds on behalf of others.

"It's very inspiring to see the work's that's being done and the outpouring of good will that goes forth every single day," she said. "I know that would be a source of great inspiration to my dad and something he would be very proud to be associated with."

Following the award presentation, Ms. Dosedel thanked her family for their support and acknowledged that the real heroes are the seamstresses who volunteer their time.

"I think Bob Hope had a vision that the military needed something other than combat, like the intangible spirit of home and comfort," said Ms. Dosedel. "We thought it would be important that wounded service members be provided adaptive clothing to recover from their injuries with comfort and dignity."

Unlike most clothing, Ms. Dosedel said the products her organization produces take on a personal touch.

"I think what is unique is that everything is touched by a human hand ... love and dedication and thankfulness in every stitch," Ms. Dosedel said. "As a military spouse, it's very heartwarming to see so many people across the country helping out."

Carla Bergner, an ambassador for "Sew Much Comfort" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, said the garments she delivers have touched the lives of the patients.

"The clothing is a huge benefit to the wounded service member," said Ms. Bergner. "Many have injuries which prevent them from putting on standard clothing. The adaptive clothing, with the Velcro up the leg or arm, makes it easier for service members to dress themselves or be assisted by family members.

Marine Sgt. Michael Blair, a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, added that the adaptive clothing has been instrumental during his recovery.

"It gives you a sense of independence and a sense of modesty," said Sergeant Blair, who was severely injured in May 2006 during a security patrol mission in Iraq. "It is just a nice feeling to know that there were people out there like Ginger and others in her organization who were willing to go above and beyond.

"Knowing that there are people in this country who are willing to come thank us for our service and do things like this for us is a blessing," he added.