Search our Archives:
» Opinion & Society
Emily Wasserman - the Youngest Volunteer
By Lindsey M. Brothers
Thirteen-year old Emily Wasserman has met and socialized with
Fortune 500 senior VIP's, escorted Congressional leaders and military
generals, regularly talked with military officers, but, most important to
her, she has shown compassion towards injured Service Members and their
families at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
As Emily's friends spent their afternoons participating in sports and
dance class, Emily traveled to the National Naval Medical Center on a
regular basis in fulfilling the mitzvah of bikkur cholim - visiting the
sick and injured. She became a regular volunteer with the Armed Forces
Foundation (AFF) and quickly earned the status of AFF's youngest and most
Emily compassionately visited one on one with severely injured patients
and their families and made sure they knew their service was appreciated.
Emily's desire to volunteer with the AFF sparked when she considered
different organizations to volunteer with to complete part of her Bat
"I was drawn to the Foundation because I wanted to fulfill a mitzvah of
visiting the sick and injured while also serving my country. There are
many ways to support our Service Members during this turbulent time and my
way was to personally show them compassion and appreciation. I wanted to
be patriotic and fulfill a mitzvah at the same time," explained Emily.
Emily didn't just visit with the patients, she wanted to do more which
drove her to raise $7,000 for the AFF to assist Service Members and
military families in need as well as a hefty collection of care package
items to be sent to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"When I met Emily I knew she was a kid that meant business. She never
missed our regular dinner parties with the patients and I was impressed to
learn that she was raising money and collecting care package items on the
side," explained Armed Forces Foundation President, Patricia Driscoll.
"Some of these heroes spend day after day in the hospital with no family
to care and support them. It is up to us and volunteers like Emily to make
it known that America does care."
AFF's youngest volunteer made clear that, "it is not easy seeing the
patients in the condition they are in." Emily experienced the sight of
open wounds, empty eye sockets, missing limbs, fresh stitches, and the
emotional pain many of the patients and family members exhibited.
"This was the hardest part of my project because the soldiers have
injuries that require surgery, hospitalization, and physical therapy... I
told them that I thought they were very brave and that I appreciated their
service to our country. I got nervous and had trouble speaking to them
because their injuries were so severe. They had prosthetic legs and
arms...sometimes the soldiers couldn't hear me because their eardrums had
been injured by explosions at close range, so I talked to their parents
instead. Even though I was nervous while at the Naval Medical Center, I
felt good about fulfilling the mitzvah of bikkur cholim...This part of my
project has changed me forever."
Emily's father, Dr. Jay Wasserman, escorted her each time to the hospital
and also became a regular volunteer.
"I had a strong interest in becoming a volunteer for the AFF because I
hadn't served in Vietnam since my lottery number was high. However, I have
always wanted to serve and felt the need to give something back to my
country. Despite monetary contributions our family made, I wanted to give
more of myself which brought me to spend quality time with these brave men
and women and their families. They thanked me for being there but it was
the least I could do for these families that sacrificed so much for our
Emily encouraged her classmates to become involved in supporting the
troops, especially those injured by writing "thank you" and "get well"
cards for them. Emily managed to get a grocery bag full of cards which she
then turned over to the AFF to distribute to Service Members overseas,
patients at Landsthul Hospital in Germany, patients at Walter Reed, as
well as patients at the National Naval Medical Center.
Although Emily recently completed her Bat Mitzvah requirements at B'nei
Israel in Rockville, MD including her volunteer project with the AFF, she
has already taken on the responsibility of continuing to support the
Foundation and America's troops with her regular visits to the National
Naval Medical Center.
The Armed Forces Foundation, which is based out of Washington, D.C., works
to promote the morale, welfare, and quality of life of the Unites States
Armed Forces community. Since 2001, the AFF has given away millions of
dollars to the military community by paying lodging expenses at the Navy
Lodge, making homes handicapped accessible for injured Vets, purchasing
plane tickets for families visiting an injured loved one in the hospital,
providing gifts for children of military families during the holidays,
paying bills, and much more.
from the August 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (www.something.com)