MASON, W.Va. — Most people support our U.S. troops and veterans, but how far would they be willing to go to show that support?
Three members of the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 Auxiliary – Kathy Edwards, Jeanette Radford, and Jamie Crum – are willing to go bald for their cause.
The women are engaged in a quest to raise $10,000, and at various set goals, have vowed to shave their heads. Money raised will be donated to the Potomac Highlands Wounded Warrior Outreach.
The outreach is based in West Virginia and provides outdoor sporting opportunities to wounded veterans to help their healing process. The group organizes and funds three-to-five-day recreational outings for combat injured veterans, including deer, bear and turkey hunting, wildlife photography, archery, fly fishing and more.
Edwards said they became interested in the outreach at last year’s auxiliary state convention. She said Richard Ogden, vice president of the outreach, spoke and read them a letter from a veteran who went on one of the hunting trips. The veteran wrote that he was ready to commit suicide, but the trip turned his life around.
According to the outreach website, lodging, food, gear and equipment, guides and instructions, licenses and permits are all provided. The goals are to increase self-reliance, bolster self-confidence, promote healing and wellness, instill a sense of belonging, and instill an appreciation of the out-of-doors.
Crum said when her own son returned home from serving in Iraq, he went on a deer hunt provided by the outreach. She said a guide is with the veterans at all times, and the adventure provides an opportunity for the participants to join other veterans for companionship and a chance to talk together.
Edwards said statistics show that 22 veterans and active members of the military die each day from suicide. Shaving their heads in an effort to provide outreach trips to veterans is just a minor gesture on their part, she added.
“Compared to what they have done for us, it’s nothing,” Edwards said. “Hair will grow back.”
While goals have already been reached for both Radford and Edwards, additional money needs to be raised in order for the third, Crum, to undergo the razor. She will shave her head at the $7,500 mark, but the trio set their final goal at $10,000.
“We want the people in the state to know that Mason County cares about our veterans,” Crum said.
The women will be going to local businesses to solicit donations, and donations are also being accepted from the public. The three aren’t just sitting back and waiting for the money to come to them, however. Each Wednesday, the women cook and sell food at the V.F.W. post. They are also planning a chicken noodle dinner, open to the public.
Others are helping, as well. The Legion Riders of American Legion Post 140 of New Haven and Post 23 of Point Pleasant will be hosting a benefit ride in the future.
The actual shaving of their heads will take place at the 2020 state convention in June. It will be held at Glade Springs.
All three women are active members of the Post 9926 auxiliary. Crum serves as auxiliary president. Edwards is senior vice president and takes care of Veteran and Family Support, while Radford serves as trustee and historian.
The auxiliary is involved in both veteran and community projects. Members are active at the veterans home, making regular visits, serving dinners, and giving out holiday cards containing money. Present community projects are collecting supplies for the Mason County Homeless Shelter and providing blankets to a local dialysis center.
Those wishing to make a donation to the trio should make checks payable to V.F.W. Auxiliary Post 9926, with the memo Potomac Highlands Wounded Warrior Hair Cut. They can be mailed to Mason V.F.W. Post 9926, 415 Adamsville Road, Mason, WV 25260. For more information, contact Edwards at 304-593-2077; Crum at 304-532-2760; or Radford at 740-591-0396.
(Veterans at risk for possible suicide are urged to contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 Press 1. Confidential crisis chat is available at VeteransCrisisLine.net or text 838255.)
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.