BWNVVA Works Behind the Scenes
Planting Grass and Flowers

On March 16, 2009, Tom Belcher, the National Adjutant General for the Iraq War Veterans, send out an email asking for help in putting in a lawn for a soldier deployed to Iraq. His wife had put that request on a WISH BOOK entry. I responded that we would see what we could do to get that done, and with the help of our Chaplain, Rev. Bob Lewis, we hunted down some agencies that support our veterans with exactly this sort of thing. We ended up talking with Project Evergreen, who got to work looking for contractors in this area that had signed up with their program. We had originally tried to hit a window of time when SGT. Westbrook was home on leave in June, but couldn't get all the ducks in a row. The home is located in Fountain, CO, not far from Colorado Springs and a couple hours south of Denver.

We had a series of false starts when a major contractor didn't follow up with us and went dark. We later found out they were hit very hard with this economy and may not stay in business. So we found an alternative contractor, and through Project Evergreen, found multiple parties to donate all pieces: deliver the sod; put in a sprinkler system; provide shrubbery and flowers; with a main contractor to oversee and bring the heavy equipment. Rev. Lewis was able to secure local work volunteers from various veteran groups in Colorado Springs. We had things ready to go in late September when we received word that SGT. Westbrook has been wounded in a fire fight. So we put things on hold.

On October 7, SGT. Kenneth Westbrook died at Walter Reed Hospital. But all of us who were involved kept our promises. On Saturday, October 24, with permission of the family, the job was completed. Another Mission Accomplished. The local news station in Colorado Springs picked up the story and conducted an interview honoring SGT Westbrook and featuring the work on the yard that had just been completed. The story with video is here .

Both Reverend Lewis and his wife Jan were able to join the work force. Chaplain Lewis has a photo album of the chronological development and completion on this project.

Upon project completion, I sent the following email to Tom Belcher:

As you might recall, this original call for help was picked up by the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association in Denver and we started pushing on it pretty quickly, hoping to fit this into the time window when SGT. Westbrook was home on leave. Because of some false starts with landscape vendors/volunteers, this project was pushed to the right all the way until yesterday, Saturday, Oct 24th. I know you're on the larger distribution list that has followed the development of this project from the start, and we'll be distributing some pictures as soon as Rev. Lewis can get them out of his camera. But I wanted to take this opportunity to salute you and your generation of Warriors, who we'll gladly stand behind any day. And even though some of us are finding it a little difficult to actually stand on some days, I just wanted to say, veteran to veteran, that "we've got your six."

Best regards,
John Paul Rossie, Executive Director

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