WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Chief of Naval Personnel announced its winner for the 2014 Spirit of Hope Award as approved by Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) Office, June 15.
The Navy nominated Mrs. Sandra Lehmkuhler, the founder and president of the San Diego-based Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station. Lehmkuhler established the Warrior Foundation in 2004 as a non-profit, volunteer-based organization to improve the quality of life of the military men and women who have bravely served and sacrificed for our country, as well as their families who struggle to adjust to the challenge their service member is experiencing. Since its inception, the foundation has served more than 1,400 service members.
"This nomination is truly a team effort. This is a group of uniquely qualified people who have the same passion and don't care about a salary," said Lehmkuhler. "What keeps me going is watching our warriors take their first step toward progressing, and their resilience. They don't allow the injuries of their body to take away from their joy in life."
The Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station assists and provides services to four main groups of warriors: those returning home from combat with a serious injury; those who suffer from a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder; service members in need of physically therapy; and those who have been medically retired.
The Warrior Foundation provides financial support for travel for members and their families; specialized software to assist services members with the impact of traumatic brain injuries; modified boots for prosthetic limbs; lightweight wheel chairs for the injured; and service dogs.
Lehmkuhler also opened the Freedom Station, a 12-unit recovery transitional center and temporary housing complex for active duty and medically retired veterans. The station offers resources and assistance from qualified volunteers and professionals to help service members transition to civilian life.
Lehmkuhler was nominated by Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U. S. Pacific Fleet. In his nomination letter he stated "she truly exemplifies the spirit and values of Bob Hope: duty, honor, courage, loyalty, commitment, integrity, and selfless dedication as the founder and president of the board of directors for Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station."
Lehmkuhler will be presented her award during a joint ceremony honoring awardees from all services, at the Pentagon later in the fall.
Established in 1997, the Spirit of Hope Award is presented in honor of the famed entertainer and supporter of military personnel, Bob Hope. The award is presented to individuals or organizations that embody Hope's commitment and service to the men and women of the military.
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