17 January, 2006

An Angel Among Us

What you see below is the face of an angel disguised is a human being. I'm sure many people have heard of Soldiers' Angels. But did you know the person behind the scenes? Patti Patton-Bader is a granddaughter of the famous General George S. Patton, but she is a force of nature in her own right. Recently, the Department Of The Army Awarded her the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service for her service to the military and the country as founder of Soldiers' Angels. Blackfive has posted the official language of the award.

In three years Patti transformed Soldiers' Angels from a small project supporting her deployed son's fellow soldiers into an IRS-certified charity of tens of thousands of volunteers with a global reach. It now supports deployed/wounded military personnel and their families in myriad ways: from providing clothing for new babies, to blankets for the wounded, to care packages, letters, voice-controlled laptops, free airlines tickets for personnel on leave, and so much more. She's always said, "We see a need, fill a need."

And all this while facing her own personal challenges that would cow a lesser spirit. It's wonderful to see her get the credit and attention she deserves.

I had no contacts with Soldiers' Angels when I pitched my idea for Valour-IT to Patti. She jumped on it, became the project advisor, and did most of the hard work of developing contacts and distributing the laptops to the appropriate people/locations (she recently handed off her role to another person in the Soldiers' Angels leadership). I am deeply honored to have had the opportunity to work with her. I am near tears as I write this. She's truly amazing: an angel among us.

Update: I spoke to Patti this afternoon and she was mortified to see all the online attention she was getting. She said that the award was not for her alone, that she sees it as a testament to the devotion and generosity of the entire Soldiers' Angels Foundation and the tens of thousands of volunteers it encompasses. She directed me to the following on her personal page at the Soldiers' Angels website:

Congratulations Angels

Thank you for your ongoing efforts in providing support to our soldiers! This Award was made possible due to your hard work, your sacrifices and commitment.
She goes on to quote from the proclamation for the award:
In recognition to all the members and sponsors of the Soldiers' Angels Foundation, the Department of the Army awards Soldiers' Angels founder, Patti Bader, with the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service.
I'll not deny that it's the thousands of angels around the world that make Soldiers' Angels the amazing organization that it is, but Patti is the glue that holds it together. Her optimism, passion, strength of will, and faith in her fellow human beings are what makes it all work. She has been, without a doubt, the heart of Soldiers' Angels.