News / USA

Mary Ann Phillips Acts as Stand-In Mom for Wounded Soldiers

Supporting wounded troops and their families is a personal mission

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

Mary Ann Phillips has made it her personal mission to support wounded soldiers and their families.

American troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are usually sent to the U.S. Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Germany. There, they receive immediate care before being sent to a medical facility in the United States.

They also receive a visit from Mary Ann Phillips. For the past six years, she's made the four hour drive from her home in Munich to Landstuhl several times a month, spending four or five days each time, delivering gifts, sitting by the soldiers' bedsides and connecting them with their families back home.

Mary Ann Phillips has made it her personal mission to support wounded soldiers and their families.
Mary Ann Phillips has made it her personal mission to support wounded soldiers and their families.

Stand-in mom

"There are families who feel like it's just nice for them to have a contact with someone outside of the military community, outside of the medical people that can be kind of a stand-in mom for them," says Phillips, "Just to go and visit your guy and say 'hi' and give feedback to Mom about how he seems to be in good spirits and stuff like that."

Phillips, who has lived in Germany since 1989, is a Soldier's Angel. When she first joined the military support organization in 2004, she adopted soldiers - sending them letters and packages each month to make sure they knew someone was thinking of them.

"That's probably the biggest program at Soldier's Angels in terms of numbers. Soldiers and marines and airmen submit themselves into our database for adoption, so they can get extra mail and support when they are deployed," says Phillips. "Then there are people who sign up to be angels and make a commitment to send a letter a week and a little care package once a month."

But her visits to Landstuhl are a more frequent personal commitment that both soldiers and their families appreciate.

Making a difference

"I'm thinking of one soldier who was badly injured, not conscious while he was here in Germany. When he got hurt, his mom back in the States contacted us," says Phillips. "So I checked on him. It meant a lot to his mother for me to go visit him in the Intensive Care unit, to call her from his room. It was very, very hard. She couldn't hear his voice. So I'd just sit in the room and call her and say, 'O.K. I'm sitting down here. I'm holding his hand right now while I'm talking to you.' I'd put the phone to his ear so she could say goodnight to him. It just made her feel a little bit closer to him for those couple of days while he was here."

Since Phillips began her hospital visits, 15 other Soldier's Angels have joined her program. Unlike military doctors and chaplains, the role of the Angels is not to update families about the medical conditions of their loved ones, but rather to provide personal support.

"A very dear friend of mine who is a Gold Star father [his son was killed in battle], his son's unit deployed again a couple of years later. One of their soldiers was very seriously injured. He asked me to contact that soldier's wife. I'm not sure what I talked about with this wife on the phone for those many hours, but we spent hours, where I just sat in the room with him and just talked to her."

Mary Ann Phillips received the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal for her work with wounded American soldiers.
Mary Ann Phillips received the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal for her work with wounded American soldiers.

Life lessons

The time Phillips spends at the bedside of wounded or dying soldiers, she says, has taught her a lot about life, courage and compassion.

"It's given me a lot of perspective on my own problems and what's important in life. Another thing I've learned is the bond between these guys and their group, the guys they're fighting with. The first thing that any guy wants to know about if he regains consciousness here in Germany is about the other guys. He never says, 'What happened to me?' Or 'Oh my God, my legs are gone.' It is absolutely incredible, but time after time, the first thing they ask is about their friends."

Mary Ann Phillips efforts were recognized by President Barack Obama. She was honored by the White House with the 2010 Presidential Citizens Medal for putting her patriotism into action by spending countless hours caring for wounded soldiers and their families.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs