By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2009 – Servicemembers’ long-term rehabilitation shouldn’t keep them, or their family members, bound to the hospital grounds, and the Yellow Ribbon Fund is working to make sure that doesn’t happen. Founded in 2005, the organization was created to assist injured servicemembers and their families while they recuperate at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Toward that goal, it offers several programs for recovering servicemembers, including a mentor/intern program in which they can learn job skills from a local company. “The Yellow Ribbon Fund is the only organization that provides free rental cars to the family members of the injured servicemembers at NNMC and WRAMC,” said Marie Wood, the group’s first vice president and director of communications. “These cars provide transportation away from hospital grounds for our wounded warriors their family members. “As one wife told me about availability of a car after she had been caring for her husband for months at Walter Reed, ‘It’s like being released from jail to have car, finally,’” she added. Family members and friends visiting a recovering servicemember are eligible to a Yellow Ribbon Fund rental car through the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at either medical facility. This ensures that the request is coming from someone legitimately there to visit a servicemember, Wood explained.