CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Spc. Luis Mendez, with daughters Maya and Kimberly, opened candy-filled mugs yesterday from the Oklahoma Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America.
Injured Schofield soldiers get mugs filled with appreciation
Spc. Audrey Bocock says injured soldiers in Iraq don't get the attention they deserve.
Bocock got the attention yesterday -- a plastic coffee mug with a handful of candy and a Christmas tree ornament -- with about 20 other Hawaii National Guardsmen and Army Reservists at Schofield Barracks.
"We're very appreciative. It does really mean a lot," Bocock said.
Bocock, 27, a preventative medicine specialist with Hawaii's 29th Brigade Combat Team, is recovering from hip surgery. She broke her left hip jumping off a transport vehicle in Iraq in May, but didn't realize the extent of her injury until September.
She walks with a crutch.
The only other soldier in the group with a visible injury walks with a cane. An improvised explosive device destroyed the muscles in one of his legs.
Bocock, who wants to be a surgeon, volunteered in the operating room in Iraq and knows others in the group sustained serious injuries.
The Hawaii soldiers are assigned to Schofield's medical holding unit as they recover from injuries suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The mugs are gifts from the Oklahoma Chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America, a volunteer organization that sends care packages to military troops overseas.
"Something from the homeland, to make them feel acknowledged," said Lynne Mushenski, the organization's military hospital liaison.
Some of the soldiers also received Beanie Babies or tote bags.
Bocock grew up in Kailua-Kona and she attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo and also Manoa before joining the National Guard. Her family members no longer live in Hawaii and are not able to visit her at Schofield.
She received permission to go to the Big Island for Christmas. Bocock said she will stay with friends until her hanai family returns from the mainland New Year's Eve.
While in Iraq Bocock said she received care packages from Hawaii business and churches, people she didn't even know. But getting friends and family to write was a struggle.
She applauds the efforts of groups like Blue Star Mothers.
"I can't stress enough how important it is to have people acknowledge what a lot of these guys have been through. It's really important."