Hero of the Week: Patti Patton-Bader
Before Soldier’s Angels had hundreds of thousands of die hard volunteers committed to serving our troops overseas. Before the organization had a warehouse and an all volunteer board to administer the organization. Before anyone here at Ranger Up had ever heard of it or the organization’s deep commitment to our troops overseas, it was Patti Patton-Bader being a loving Mom.
Her eldest son, an Army Staff Sergeant at the time, went overseas in service to our great nation and wrote back home telling her that some of the guys in his artillery battery didn’t have anyone writing them or sending them care packages. If you’ve been overseas, you know how common a story that is. How many of your brothers and sisters don’t have someone back on the home front reminding them they’re loved and how thankful they are for their service, there’s just… nothing.
This didn’t sit well with Patti, at all. So our hero did what people of action do, she got some friends and family together, got the names of the guys who weren’t getting any mail, and started writing and sending this nation’s soldiers care packages.
Still the stories kept coming.
There were always more service members who didn’t have mail, or care packages, or the feeling that someone back home cares, a feeling that as any combat vet will tell you is absolutely paramount. And what about our wounded warriors in places like Landstuhl Germany or Walter Reed or Bethesda? What about families at the Fisher Houses around the country, everyone at BAMC in San Antonio, the Naval Hospitals up and down the West Coast?
Patti and her small band decided that more needed to be done. Through the help of the World Wide Web Patti started realizing that she wasn’t the only person that had a deep seated desire to serve the troops overseas, and that she wasn’t the only person to see the need. A simple act of kindness and care sparked into an idea to do more, and the fire started to burn hot.
Patti and her rapidly growing band of patriots and supporters of the troops overseas started to get donations of money, gear and toiletries. People started to offer other services like quilt making or baking for the troops. It kept growing and Patti was at the front of the charge every step of the way. It grew and it grew. In 2004 her organization officially got 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and the modern version of Soldier’s Angels was born. As of 2008, the last time they released any data, there are over 200,000 Soldier’s Angels volunteers around the world. Men and women empowered and totally committed to the simplest, yet unbelievably powerful, mission statement:
May no soldier go unloved.
May no soldier walk alone.
May no soldier be forgotten,
Until they all come home.
Soldier’s Angels has over twenty active programs including letter writing, care package sharing, quilt making, baking for the wounded and their families, computers for the wounded (through Valor-IT, which our good buddy Matt Bernard helps out on), getting airline miles and travel arranged for the families of the wounded, and a host of other things. At the forefront of all of this is Patti Patton-Bader. She’s not only the founder but she’s also the President of Soldier’s Angels to this day. If you noticed the Patton part of her last name and wondered, she is related to the late General. She’s his niece. After spending five minutes with her there will be no doubt in your mind the Patton family’s fighting spirit is alive and well in his niece.
Patti, you’re so much more than a hero to so many people, even if you’ll never see it that way. Thousands upon thousands of service members have been given joy and a brief respite from the battle field because of you and your leadership of one of the most fantastic service teams ever assembled. The dozens upon dozens of Solder’s Angels volunteers we have worked with all have your same infectious smile on their face, and all will do whatever they can to help our fighting men and women. Just like you they all help for nothing more than the belief in it being the right thing to do.
Patti is also the first Hero I’ve written about that I’ve also met. Within twenty minutes of this being published she will probably send me a Facebook message or call me on the phone to tell me that I’m out of my mind for doing this and that Nick and I are crazy to think of her like this. Patti, that’s just not the case.
For the thousands of troops you have touched, for the tens of thousands of letters and care packages and hundreds of thousands of smiles you have brought to the faces of our nation’s warriors, thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts.