PHILADELPHIA, PA, UNITED STATES
PHILADELPHIA - There’s a wounded Soldier in a wheelchair, another with a devastating battle wound, and a third who took ill during combat. None of them had clothing beyond what’s on their backs upon arrival to the Wounded Heroes Service Center in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Europe & Africa supports this military clothing sales store specially designed to serve wounded warriors on a daily basis with boots, socks, underwear and other uniform clothing items.
Larry Lindsay, a customer account specialist from DLA Troop Support’s clothing and textiles supply chain, manually processes every order for the center. This averages about 50-75 requisitions a week, he said.
Lindsay monitors inventory stock levels at a DLA depot in Germersheim, Germany, to ensure items can be delivered to the store within three to five days, he said.
“[Having stock on hand] cuts down the customer wait time when it’s available in Germersheim versus having to pull it from the states,” Lindsay said.
The Wounded Heroes Service Center carries the widest variety of sizes among Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores in Europe and the U.S., Store Manager Deniz Barcala said.
“This [facility] is unique, … and with the DLA’s support we get Soldiers’ needs right away,” Barcala said. “Here we always have stock in every size possible, because you never know what size a wounded hero will be.”
Barcala said seeing wounded service members can be emotional, but she and her colleagues do their best to make their customers comfortable.
“We are here to help Soldiers who’ve been evacuated from downrange to here for medical purposes,” Barcala said. “It’s more fulfilling for us to help those who are actually in the combat zone fighting for our country.”
Since opening in 2001, the center has served more than 14,000 wounded service members, Barcala said. In 2013, the store was renovated to include a wheel chair accessible entrance, dressing rooms and restrooms.
“We wanted to give them privacy from the sales floor,” Barcala said. “We needed to improve a little bit more for those who serve for us.”
Barcala described her team as dedicated and including diverse backgrounds of veterans and military spouses. Some associates even bake cookies for visiting wounded service members, she said.
“We are more like a family over here. When a Soldier comes here, they are so comfortable with us,” Barcala said. “I love my job, and I’m sure all of my associates will say the same. The satisfaction is much higher than in a retail store.”
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This work, DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa supports wounded warrior center, by Mikia Muhammad, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.