Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
A Roanoke County woman launched the project as a way to help a military unit in Afghanistan.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
It was a homegrown effort to send clean bedsheets to a unit of U.S. troops half a world away. But then it got national media attention, and that’s when military brass bristled.
Speaking by phone Tuesday, RoxAnne Christley, the Roanoke County woman behind “Operation Bedsheet,” spoke matter-of-factly about the push back.
“You don’t embarrass the military, I can respect that,” she said.
Christley’s effort to collect sheets for a military unit in Afghanistan began as a way to occupy her time after an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination in the county supervisors race. She said a close friend has a husband who serves as a charge nurse in the country, and that his unit needed clean linens.
“His unit was getting ready to change operation as far as personnel, and he was really concerned the sheets were just old and worn and stained,” she said during an appearance on Fox News. “And he just wanted new sheets so that the new personnel coming in would have a fresh start.”
So she set to work, spreading the word about the project, which gained support from people across the country.
Christley said she collected more than 150 sets of sheets and raised more than $2,000 to cover shipping costs. By the beginning of June, the packages were en route.
That’s when military officials started asking questions, eventually asking that the Operation Bedsheet website be dismantled.
“The page got taken down because the military harassed the crap out of my webmaster,” Christley said. “I would have left it up.”
U.S. military officials in Kabul said no one had asked them about a bedsheet shortage.
Medical officials in Afghanistan scrambled to check the linen inventory at all 25 U.S. and NATO medical treatment facilities across the country, said Col. Theresa Sullivan, the chief medical adviser for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Within hours, word came back to U.S. officials that all facilities had a proper supply of clean sheets. In fact, there were hundreds of spares stored at the six main military hospitals, ready to be pushed down to the field surgical teams if needed. And there were plenty of disposable sheets to prevent any chance of a spot shortage, she said.
“I can tell you with full confidence we do not have a shortage of clean hospital bed linen,” she said.
Sullivan added that the mindset of medical troops in Afghanistan is such that they would never tolerate bloody, torn sheets for patients.
“I have been deployed several times and I can tell you that all of us — the doctors, the nurses, everyone — are advocates for the patients, and if they need something for the patients, they let me know, they let the chain of command know, and they aren’t shy about it,” she said.
Medical units in Afghanistan follow the same standards for things like changing sheets as military medical facilities do in the United States, she said. They are inspected quarterly to assure they are meeting those standards.
As for the packages sent from Roanoke, Christley is keeping mum about their destination.
She declined to name her friend’s husband, who mentioned the sheet need for his unit initially.
The dust-up with military officials hasn’t shaken her desire to send needed supplies to troops overseas.
She said her brother-in-law is also in Afghanistan, and she has contacted him to ask if there’s anything she can do for his unit.
“All of the money we have that we haven’t used, it’s been slated for a separate fund,” she said.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall