|Airline Division Capt. Bourne, President Hoffa and others hail money raised.|
The trek was part of a fundraiser for wounded servicemen and women through a program called iPods for Wounded Veterans. The organization, founded by Paul Cardello, a Vietnam veteran and retired Teamster with Local 170 in Worcester, Mass., provides iPods, iPads, e-readers and other materials to improve the quality of life for wounded veterans.
Last Friday, Capt. Bourne was presented with a “Medal of Honor Sponsor”-level recognition at the International Union headquarters, and was joined by Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and members of iPods for Wounded Veterans. Bourne’s 230-mile hike through mountains and forests raised $10,000 for the all-volunteer organization. This is the highest honor given by the iPods for Wounded Veterans program to an individual.
Capt. Bourne said:
What we did was nothing compared to what our wounded troops have endured. I am so honored to have so many Teamsters and others step up to support my walk and support this program to help our wounded veterans. They deserve so much more than we can ever give them.Cardello explained that the program is just more than raising funds, and that it involves interaction with the veterans:
We see soldiers who have had 20 operations or more. It’s long-term care and the rehabilitation process is extensive. We provide electronics they can use to communicate and for entertainment. We see over 100 soldiers every time we go to a veterans’ hospital and they are always grateful.Wayne Fox, a member of Local 25 in Boston, is the co-chairman of iPods for Wounded Veterans, along with Cardello, and is the son of a World World War II veteran who recently passed away at the age of 96:
We are proud of our 50-plus volunteers, because without the Teamsters, the mom and pops and our sponsors, we couldn’t have scratched the surface of what we’ve been able to do to help our servicemen and women. This is our 17th trip to D.C. in the past four years. It’s not just the physical scars, it’s also emotional, it’s tough and my heart goes out to them.Following the ceremony to present Bourne with the plaque, the volunteers visited local veterans’ hospitals.
Teamster local unions around the country volunteer with the organization, and more local unions are joining in.
To find out more, visit www.ipodsforwoundedveterans.org.