First off! If there is an U.S.O. facility in your area, PLEASE carve some time out of your lives, even if it is once every 6 months for an hour, and volunteer for our greatest American heroes. You don’t have to draw like me to volunteer. There is plenty to do beyond that. Please go to www.USO.org to see how you can help our soldiers, our country and yourselves. Need motivation? Volunteer for the U.S.O.
There are other groups and organizations that help out our troops. Many have groups that help out at many V.A. locations, such as the Lions Club, The Red Hat Society, etc.
There were nine of us all together. We travelled from all over the country and met at a Marriott hotel in San Antonio. We are all members of the National Cartoonists Society and were in Texas to perform for the troops for the USO at the Brooke Army Medical Center and their rehabilitation center, The Intrepid.
Our group consisted of our leader, Jeff Bacon, myself, Bruce Higdon, Milburn Taylor, Bill Hinds, Tom Stiglich, Steve Moore, Rob Harrell amd Mike Ramierez.
We nabbed a bite to eat that Wednesday night, discussed the next day ahead and prepared for a very busy Thursday, the 22nd. Above I sketched Jeff Bacon while he used a phone at the Marriott.
We started off the Thursday with breakfast at a very neat restaurant in the Downtown, Schilo’s. The place was originally a bank. They now use the bank vault as a cooler. Above is a photo of us finishing breakfast. To thye right is the telephone in the telephone booth that occupies a corner of the restaurant.
Jane Carpenter with the USO was our escort and along with two colleagues got us to the medical center by bus. Below is a photo of the Intrepid’s dedication area.
Much of what we saw in the hospital wasn’t photographed for obvious reasons. I will post what I get permission to use later.
I want to write that it was definitely a moving experience. We saw brave soldiers facing very difficult changes in their lives. The Intrepid is an incredible facility that rehabilitates those soldiers that need it. There’s even an apartment where soldiers can re-learn how to cook using mechanical hands and arms. I wish more could see it. See above message!
The Brooke Army Medical Center is one of the first stops in the U.S. for soldiers after injury overseas. We saw many tough scenes of men and women who had just returned. However, nothing can charge you up more than to hear these folks itching to go back into action.\
So often I see the yippy-yappy valley-girl talking kids (boys and girls) with their limited vocabulary of ‘like-a’s, ‘sooo’s and other needless over-used superlatives about the least important things in life. I wish we could march these young people through these facilities and see what a powerful view of life can really be. I wish all Americans could or would volunteer for the U.S.O. or any military or V.A. charity and get the opportunity to see what an American can be. Again, see above meesage!
We finished at the USO offices in downtown San Anotnio. There we all had a home cooked meal which was all part of a volunteer appreciation dinner. After dinner we all drew again. The fellow above has quite a resemblance to Frank Sinatra. He’d never heard that before.
I left the USO late wanting to finish those who were waiting and joined my colleagues sitting in the bar area of the Marriott. After a while Tom Stiglich and Mike Ramierez got up to stroll the Riverwalk. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to later and joined them on their trek. The result was the finding of a top notch jazz band playing in a small place under the Hyatt. Considering the mighty impact of the earlier day, this was whip cream and a cherry on top. It was oh so very nice to sit back and watch the quintet barrel out the blues and jazz. Below are sketches of the players. I didn’t have my sketch pad with me, so I borrowed some paper from the trumpet player.
After we three closed the jazz club, we hit another restaurant with Karoake. Below is a sketch of Mike Ramierez belting out a tune (Something he’s very good at, along with the editorial cartoons).
Friday morning many of us headed back to Schilo’s for breakfast. Before flying out I had the opportunity to briefly visit with my cousin Janet and her husband Byron who live near San Antonio. It’s the first time in a long, long time that I’ve visited with Janet for so long. We went to a burger place where I got an excellent pork burger that ACTUALLY tasted like a burger.