This Memorial Day Holiday is where we celebrate our fallen heroes. It is also a day where we thank every current and former member of the military for helping keep the USA safe and secure. However, approximately 40,000 brave men and women have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan wounded and must now face the daunting challenge of recovery. Recently wounded and disfigured active service and veteran warriors are coming home with disfiguring scars as a result of shrapnel, burns and artillery wounds. Shrapnel itself is often left in the wound site. These disfiguring wounds can interfere with the veteran’s ability to socialize normally, or reenter their pre-war life. There is hope, however. Veteran nurse Maggie Lockridge, RN founded R.A.W. (Rebuilding America’s Warriors), a 501(c)3 Foundation and network, and along with plastic surgeon Dr. Norman Leaf, has grown it to 357 surgeons in 47 states, that provide free reconstructive surgeries on a national basis to wounded and disfigured warriors. The Foundation’s objective is to aid veteran, or active military soldiers with reconstructive surgery that will allow them to live a more normal life. R.A.W. is funded by publicly solicited donations that go directly toward the soldier’s transportation, hotel accommodations, food, surgical costs, medical supplies, hospitalization, anesthesia, medications, and aftercare.
NURSES THAT ROCK! About Maggie Lockridge During the Vietnam War era Maggie Lockridge served as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force Nursing Corps., caring for wounded soldiers stateside. The love of country and those that serve stayed with her throughout her life. Her nursing career eventually came full circle. Looking back on her much celebrated career Maggie says she is nothing but grateful for the incredible opportunities she has experienced as a result of her choice to become a nurse. Born in Springfield, VT Maggie attended nursing school in Boston, MA, worked for five years in various fields of nursing in New York City, raised her children in Hawaii, and in 1987 a move to Beverly Hills found her in the position of Administrator of Le Petit Ermitage Hotel catering only to those who traveled from around the world to have plastic surgery by the surgeons to the stars. Unfortunately, the owner experienced a foreclosure, and Le Petit Ermitage was dissolved. “The hotel recovery center was such a dream job,” said Maggie who was Administrator of the recovery wing. “Then one day the owner decided to close the hotel and we were all out of a work. “ Being one to always land on her feet, it didn’t take more than a few calls and a few days before Maggie was back in business.
In 1994 Maggie Lockridge opened Shanteque at Le Meridien Hotel. Shanteque rapidly became the overnight recovery center of choice among many plastic and aesthetic surgeons operating in Beverly Hills and the surrounding cities. At Shanteque, Maggie employed 38 nurses, owned 3 luxury black town cars and catered to between 180 and 220 patient stays each month. Over the course of her seventeen year career owning and managing recovery centers in Beverly Hills, Maggie and her team oversaw the successful recovery of more than 40,000 plastic surgery patients. “Going to work at Shanteque was something I looked forward to every single day,” exclaimed Maggie. “We all knew just how lucky we were to work in such a wonderful setting and to take care of people in the luxurious and glamorous way we did. Shanteque was pure joy.” Maggie’s signature black town cars were well recognized in the back alleys of Beverly Hills where they would lie in wait to secretly whisk patients to the gorgeously appointed rooms of Shanteque. To this day, nobody knows better than Maggie Lockridge how to design a room so that it not only disguises vital medical equipment, but also make hospital beds actually look cozy and inviting. During its heyday, Maggie would arrive at Shanteque at 6.30 a.m. and often stay until 10.00 p.m. While most of Maggie’s patient recovered successfully and without any complication, Maggie says that occasionally she was more than grateful for her RN degree, especially when a patient suffered a hematoma and she would have to scrub in with the doctor late at night. Then, as quickly as Shanteque began, it ended. To Maggie’s complete surprise, two women walked in one day asking to buy Shanteque. Maggie threw out a price. They said yes. Shanteque was sold and Maggie spent the next two years writing memoirs and publishing a book, Facelift Hotel, which is still a best seller on Amazon.
However, Maggie was not done. In 2007 she was watching journalist Bob Woodruff’s TV special on recuperating from traumatic brain injuries as he had sustained one while covering the war in Iraq. Bob was still recuperating from the explosion that literally rocked his world. At the same time the Walter Reed Veterans Hospital scandal was erupting in the media. Instantly, Maggie realized that although she could not help these veterans psychologically, she could help them aesthetically. That night she wrote to thirty trusted doctors in Beverly Hills asking if they would join her in the Iraq Star Foundation that she was forming.
Within a few days she received a call from Dr. Norman Leaf who offered to be the Medical Director of the Foundation, a position he continues to hold today. All 30 of the doctors she wrote to came on board.With a change of name since the war in Afghanistan, R.A.W. (Rebuilding America’s Warriors) now has 330 contributing surgeons nationwide. The surgeons at R.A.W. are made up of all specialties including plastic surgery, ocular surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, pain management to name a few. R.A.W. currently serves 49 US States with its pro-bono surgery programs and now is proud to say that it has added 10 different dental teams that work around the country with the support of the country’s largest dental implant manufacturers and the Beverly Hills Dental Lab that has donated crowns, bridges and other dental prosthetics.
The Infinite Hero Foundation recently awarded R.A.W. a grant of $100,000.00 to provide aesthetic and reconstructive procedures and dental restoration to wounded and disfigured veterans. All donations to R.A.W. go directly towards the soldier’s transportation, hotel accommodations, food, surgical costs, medical supplies, hospitalization, anesthesia, medications, and aftercare. Rebuilding America’s Warriors Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable foundation. “Operating the Iraq Star Foundation and now R.A.W. has become a full time job that I never expected. Up to this point in my life I have to say it is the best job I have ever had,” said Maggie “To see the look of sheer happiness on the faces of the veteran and their family when the result of their surgery is revealed is unbelievable. To watch their confidence level soar as they begin to rebuild their life after surgery is tantamount to nothing I can ever describe.” To learn more visit: www.rebuildingamericaswarriors.com