As the wife of an Army reservist, Diane Mayls understands what it’s like to be alone during a time of war.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, her husband, Walt, was given four days notice to report to Utah for duty. For 14 months, Mayls was left alone to care for three children, ages 11, 13 and 15, as well as the family business.
“Most people don’t understand what you’re going through,” she said. “They just thought he was gone on vacation. My kids were young and there was nobody around to mentor them. We had so little time to get things in order.”
Mayls didn’t want other military spouses to endure the same.
As a member of the American Legion Young Budd Post 171Auxiliary, she and other members of the group work to support military families.
On Sunday, Dec. 4, the auxiliary will host a spaghetti dinner from 3-7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 393 E. College Ave., with the hope of raising more than $2,000 to help support wounded soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
Tickets for the dinner are $7.50. Children ages 3-10 can eat for $5. Children younger than 3 are admitted free.
The auxiliary recently received a request to help soldiers who require treatment at a combat support hospital, Malys said. Often, uniforms and boots need to be cut away from wounded soldiers and there is a need for loose-fitting clothing, mattress pads, pillows and blankets as the weather turns cold in the war zone.
Combat support hospitals provide immediate urgent care until soldiers can be transported to a permanent location.
“They don’t have a lot of room to store things, so they can only keep a limited number of supplies,” Mayls said. “The average cost per care package is between $50 and $70. We’re hoping to raise enough money to care for about 50 soldiers.”
The auxiliary directly supports the Ohio National Guard 684th Medical Company, which also has been adopted by Westerville.
The auxiliary will host a holiday party for families of the unit on Saturday, Dec. 10. A Valentine’s fundraiser planned for Feb. 11, 2012 will raise additional money to help those on the homefront with household repairs and other financial and emotional support.
Those attending the spaghetti dinner also will have an opportunity to sponsor a wounded warrior, Malys said.
The Wounded Warrior Project, a Jacksonville-based nonprofit group, has grown into a major national organization. Through a variety of programs, it aims to help injured veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make the transition to civilian life.
Last year, the Wounded Warrior Project raised $68 million to help injured soldiers.
While about 13 percent of the funding comes from corporations or foundations, the rest is provided through individuals.
Mayls has heard from the battlefield firsthand. She recently received a response from military members serving in Afghanistan, letting her know that care packages had arrived.
“They guys who took the boxes to the wounded warriors couldn’t stop talking about how happy the soldiers were,” the response read. “That was the highlight of their day.”