Home > Israel, Shoshana Bryen, United States of America > A special dinner for America’s wounded veterans

A special dinner for America’s wounded veterans

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Long time readers know, and have generously supported, Fran O’Brien’s dinners for soldiers, primarily amputees, recovering from their wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

The dinners, which take place outside of the hospital, began in 2004 and offer recovering soldiers a chance to socialize, eat a good meal, and take their first steps towards easing back into society at no cost them or their family members. The dinners are a safe haven for men and women facing possibly the most difficult time of their young lives. Although the restaurant that first hosted them and gave the event its name has closed, with the help of foreign embassies (including the Israeli Embassy), clubs and restaurants and a small band of dedicated volunteers, the dinners continue every week. 
This week, JINSA is asking again for your support for our troops and for the Fran O’Brien’s dinners. 
Why this week? 
Because we are approaching Memorial Day, when we remember the soldiers who died and the causes for which they “gave their last full measure of devotion.” Brave men (and more recently women) who fought from Bunker Hill to New Orleans to Buena Vista to Shiloh to Chateau-Thierry to Cape Esperance and Kasserine Pass to Taejon to Khe Sanh to 73 Easting to Fallujah to Marjah. Some were drafted, some were volunteers; none returned from battle to enjoy the pleasures of what we call our “American way of life,” including the gifts of culture, food and habits given to America by waves of immigrants who also gave their sons in battle.
The tradition of the Jewish people is to remember the deceased individually on the date of their death, and in communal services called “yizkor”-remembrance-with fellowship and charity.  Memorial Day is “yizkor” for America’s departed soldiers, and it is appropriate to honor those who died by helping those who still serve.  
If 9-11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made us aware of the fragility of our peace at home and the nature of our enemies abroad, it also made us enormously proud of the men and women who fight for us and cognizant of our responsibilities for their recovery and their re-entry into society.
Too many soldiers don’t know how much we appreciate that what they do provides the space for us to eat, drink and laugh; to fly our flags; to go to a furniture sale or to the beach on a long, lovely Memorial Day weekend. This year, before you do any of those things, do something for a soldier in memory of a soldier.
Please send a check made out to “JINSA” and put “Fran O’Brien’s” on the memo line. Send it to us at: 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Suite 515, Washington, DC 20036. Dinners average 75 people and cost about $3,000 a week. That’s about $30 for each soldier, spouse or parent or child of a soldier and the volunteers needed to make it work. It is tax deductible and every penny will go to dinners for the troops. 
Help us ensure that the young men and women who share the food and fellowship of Fran O’Brien’s dinners know how you feel about their sacrifice, while you can do it and while they can appreciate it.

Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

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