“No one really gets a chance to hold an Oscar. This is the first time the Oscars have ever let one of these out of their sight,” explained comedian Angie Greenup, one of two Oscar Road Trip reporters hired by the Academy Awards to bring the gold statuette to fans across the country on a 21-day tour before it arrived on the Hollywood red carpet for the 85th Academy Awards presentation Feb. 24.
Greenup called the trip to Washington and visit with wounded warriors one of the most memorable of the 12-city tour. “This, here, is pretty amazing,” she said. “What wounded warriors have done for everybody here and for our country, just doing something like this and making everyone smile means a lot to us.”
And a smile goes a long way for Olga Page, who joined her husband Army Col. Benjamin Page at the movie screening coordinated by the Warrior Family Coordination Cell (WFCC) at WRNMMC.
“I haven’t laughed in a long time,” said Page, who explained she has spent the last year with her husband during his recovery at Walter Reed Bethesda. She said they take the tiring, stressful recovery day-by-day, with gratitude. The military spouse explained she canceled an appointment for herself to bring her husband to the movies for another kind of medicine: a dose of laughter.
The colonel flashed a quick smile with a twinkle in his eyes as he held the golden Oscar statuette in his left hand with help from his wife, a walking cane in his right.
“It’s a release to me to … get him smiling and have a good time,” explained the native of Panama. “To see my husband smile makes me happy,” said Page, who participates in WFCC movie outings with her husband once a month.
Alexandra Bitonti, an event coordinator with the WFCC, estimated the department offers between four and ten different events each week for wounded warriors and their families. She recalled a particularly memorable outing to a Washington Nationals baseball game that gathered the wounded warriors and service members with their group behind home plate, to a standing ovation and applause from the stadium.
“I think it shows them their country is proud of them and recognizes the sacrifices they’ve made,” Bitonti said.
There are two important aspects of outings his department coordinates for wounded, ill and injured service members and their family members, according to Navy Capt. Thomas A. Craig, director of the WFCC. The first is re-immersion back into society.
“Our microcosm on [the medical] campus is not like the community outside the fence. Excursions like this help our warriors travel as a group, a custom that military service members are comfortable with, into various social situations,” Craig said. “Allowing our warriors to go out in support groups of warriors and family members, allows them to gradually immerse themselves into our community.”
Re-forming bonds with family members and forging bonds with other warriors is the second important aspect of events sponsored by WFCC, Craig explained.
Spc. Kerry Bartholomew, an activated Army reservist with the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Dix, N.J., attended the Oscar/movie screening. “I’m kind of an isolator, so it helps me to socialize, gets me out of my room, gets me out into the sunshine and meet new people, people that I have stuff in common with,” he said.