Pillows for Soldiers

By Shelley Smith ssmith@salisburypost.com
What began in 2005 as a dream to provide all U.S. veterans, soldiers and fallen soldiers’ families with a pillow of thanks, has become a reality.

Sunday, January 10, 2010 3:00 AM  
Jerry Neuhaus receives his pillow from Pillows for Soldiers founder and president David Busch. Photo by Shelley Smith, Salisbury Post.
James Luther chats with pillow engineer Todd Schaffner and Webmaster David Warner. Luther was one of 500 veterans and active soldiers to recive a pillow Saturday from Pillow for Soldiers. Photo by Shelley Smith, Salisbury Post.

Pillows For Soldiers, a nonprofit organization shipping pillows to individual veterans and soldiers, has made its biggest shipment, and the first stop was the Hefner VA Medical Center.

David Busch, Pillows for Soldiers founder and president, presented the hospital with 500 Snoozer body pillows Saturday.

“We are very proud and honored to be able to do this,” said Busch, who is from Connecticut. “There are 152 VA hospitals in this country, and we’re going to every one of them. Pillows for Soldiers will never end.”

Busch’s vision came to him one night after ordering the same Snoozer pillows to sell at a gym he owned. He called the distributor, Todd Schaffner, and asked him what he thought about the idea, and Schaffner was in.

“I always tell people it was a calling,” Busch said. “It’s not about me, it’s about recognizing the sacrifices that the soldiers make and honoring them.”

Schaffner, a Georgia Tech industrial design graduate, patented the design of the ergonomic body pillow, and it is made in the United States.

“This project really struck a chord with me when David contacted me five years ago,” Schaffner said. “My grandparents were vets, and I knew it’d be a great way to give back.”

Busch said one of the reasons Pillows for Soldiers chose the Hefner VA as the first distribution site was because of the number of remaining World War II veterans.

“They are our greatest generation,” Busch said.

The Web master for Pillows for Soldiers, David Warner, is a veteran who lives across the street from the VA.

“I designed the Web site for David’s gym, and he contacted me about the Pillows for Soldiers site,” Warner said. “It was all by accident. I think that’s the way God does stuff.

“It’s a really fantastic idea, and something that really needed to be done.”

Catherine Smith, who received a pillow Saturday, is a Marine Corps veteran.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I have a degenerative disc disease and pillows are really important.

“Soldiers develop a lot of arthritic injuries because of the physical demands of the job, and pillows really help.

“Any of the programs that are done for the vets are really needed and really appreciated, especially here.”

James Luther also appreciates the “support.”

“When you take the pillow out of the case, you realize it’s a fantastic, unique pillow,” Luther said. “It’s ideal for all veterans and a great need.”

Luther, a Marine Corps veteran, devotes his time at the Hefner VA as a veterans service officer and the president of the volunteer services executive board.

“There’s a lot of things going on down here,” Luther said. “It’s time for the World War II veterans to pass the torch to the Vietnam vets like me.

“I visit these guys every week. I say, ‘Have wheelchair, will travel.’ I make sure everyone is taken care of. These pillows will help out a lot.”

Homer Robinson, a Vietnam veteran and president of the Rowan County Veterans Council, is excited about the program and wants to volunteer to help it get going.

“It’s going to be a great program,” Robinson said. “The more we get it going, the better off it will be.”

Robert Hintz, currently active in the Army National Guard as a Black Hawk pilot, is thrilled Busch started the pillow program.

“At the end of the day, the soldier lays his head on the pillow — on the ground, in a helicopter, wherever he is — and he knows that he is appreciated and loved,” Hintz said.

“Someone out there cares enough to donate their time and their money to what we’re doing, and it’s a great reminder to us,” said Jerry Neuhaus, who also is an active member of the Army National Guard.

Each pillow features a pillowcase with a label specially designed for Pillows for Soldiers, as well as a thank you note to each recipient. The tag reads, “Bringing comfort to those who protect our freedom. Thank you for your service and God bless America.”

Pillows for Soldiers uses 100 percent of its donations for the purchase and shipment of pillows. Its Web site, http://www.pillowsforsoldiers.com, allows for donations and other special features, such as a toolbar download that honors soldiers and also features a live television you can view while surfing the Web. You can also call 1-888-295-1231.

“For basically a night out to the movies, you can give a pillow to a veteran,” Busch said. “And it’s a gift that will last a lifetime.”

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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