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America Supports You: Steak Night Treats Vets' Toughest Injuries
America Supports You ^ | Paul X. Rutz

Posted on 05/01/2006 6:42:29 PM PDT by SandRat

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2006 – For the past two and a half years, veterans of wars past have been helping heal the latest generation of wounded troops every Friday in a basement steakhouse here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image

Members of Disabled American Veterans help a wounded servicemember before the final Friday night dinner for wounded troops at Fran O'Brien's steakhouse in downtown Washington, D.C. Groups like DAV and Helping Our Heroes Foundation bring dozens of wounded troops out to the Friday dinners, which now will be held at various locations in the nation's capital, beginning May 5. Photo by Paul X. Rutz  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Fran O'Brien's, a low-lit, sports-themed place with red leather chairs, wood paneling and hundreds of signed photos lining the walls, has become a source of healing for many troops as they convalesce in nearby military hospitals. The restaurant closed this weekend, but its owners, Hal Koster and Marty O'Brien, have vowed to keep putting on their free steak dinners at other locations.

Some troops have been coming to steak night since it began in October 2003. "We call them seniors," said Koster, a Vietnam veteran. "They're mentors to the newly injured; they have a job other than just drinking all my beer."

One of those soldiers, Army Sgt. Wasim Khan, lost both legs in Baghdad during the invasion in 2003. "I was one of the first ones to come here," he said.

"When I was in the hospital, I didn't talk to anybody at all," Khan said. "I was worried, angry, mad, upset, depressed. But once I started getting out here, I saw the changes in me. I started talking to people, socializing with my own people, military people."

Khan said he continues to find valuable therapy in talking with veterans from the Vietnam and Korean wars. "They told us their stories about when they came back home," he said. "Those 'Nam vets are doing their best to give us the best possible care and facilities out there."

Having attention and support from all over America makes him feel very lucky, Khan said, but he knows it took work to change America's attitude: "They don't want us to go through what they went through. ... The older vets, they said, 'This is not going to happen to this generation of veterans.'"

Army Staff Sgt. Chris Bain, another of the "seniors," suffered severe arm injuries in April 2004. He said he comes to steak night every week and does his best to pass his good attitude on to the new guys: "I still can't cut my food, so you know what? I purposely sit next to somebody who doesn't have legs. You know why? Because I'm all, look, you got two great arms and great hands. ... You cut my steak. I'll get your food. That's what it's all about."

When he doesn't have physical therapy, Bain said he tries to give back to the older veterans, especially the owners of Fran O'Brien's. "I come down and ask Hal if he needs any help: 'Hal what can I do for you? You give so much to the troops, and it means so much to us and me.' ... Hal and Marty both are just the greatest individuals I've ever met."

At his restaurant's final Friday dinner, April 28, Koster said a change of location would be a difficult thing for some troops because his restaurant kept them from feeling out of place. "The regular customers that we have are accustomed to seeing people without legs and arms, some of the things that maybe the general public isn't," he said.

For the next month, the dinners will be held at a hotel in downtown Washington, except on May 19, when the Italian embassy will take a turn. "I think the troops would enjoy that," Koster said. "We're trying to set up something nice for them, and if they like it, great. If they don't, we'll change it because the dinners are for them."

Koster talked to several reporters April 28 as he and his staff made final preparations to receive young people in wheelchairs and prosthetics. The restaurant's bar filled with regulars, including veterans and members of troop support organizations such as Rolling Thunder and Disabled American Veterans.

When the wounded troops arrived, carefully negotiating the stairs into the basement, reporters were given some time to chat with them. Then everyone but the troops and their families were asked to leave the dining area, and the doors to the room were closed. Koster said in March 2004 he stopped letting reporters view the dinners "because the troops don't want that. They're here to relax."

The dinners began in October 2003, soon after the conflict in Iraq started, he said. Jim Meyer, a veteran wounded in Vietnam, came to Koster and said he thought troops would heal better if they could get a night away from the hospital. Buying some dinners for the troops and their families seemed like a great thing to do.

Koster said he's seen some incredible recoveries happen between the time troops arrive for their first dinner and the weeks following. "We have a young man now, Brian Anderson, who's only been down here twice," he said. "He lost both legs and an arm, and he's up walking. He's got his two prosthetic legs, and his one prosthetic arm, he's got a pair of crutches, and he's out getting around. Just absolutely outstanding in that short a period of time."

Collaboration with local troop support groups has been a great help to the weekly events, Koster said. Some rent busses and provide other logistical support, while others get the word out to troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the National Naval Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md.

Koster said he will do his best to help provide the same welcoming atmosphere as always when the weekly dinners move to new places, hopefully allowing troops to become relaxed in the new environment.

"What we're trying to do is get the new guys that aren't that comfortable with their amputations or their face disfigurations or whatever their injury is, and they don't have the strength necessarily to get out and go to a regular place," he said. "First time out of the hospital, they're not strong yet, but they're determined, and that's important."

Related Site:

America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution image

Army Staff Sgt. Chris Bain talks to reporters before the final Friday dinner at Fran O'Brien's for wounded troops in downtown Washington, D.C., April 28. Bain, who was wounded over two years ago, said he tries to take every opportunity to help newly wounded troops recover. Photo by Paul X. Rutz  


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TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; US: District of Columbia; US: Maryland; US: Virginia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: america; americasupportsyou; anamericansoldier; chow; franobriens; goodeats; injuries; night; steak; supportourtroops; supports; toughest; treats; vets; walterreed; wia; you

1 posted on 05/01/2006 6:42:35 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: 2LT Radix jr; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; 80 Square Miles; A Ruckus of Dogs; acad1228; AirForceMom; ..

--sniff!-- PING!!!! --sniff!--


2 posted on 05/01/2006 6:43:18 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Coop
PING!!
3 posted on 05/01/2006 6:52:11 PM PDT by bd476
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To: SandRat

Good to see they are still doing this after losing their lease!!! BTTT !!!


4 posted on 05/01/2006 7:00:37 PM PDT by JDoutrider
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To: SandRat; Coop

I am glad they have come up with alternative plans...but, it would be so much better if there was one place, where the troops were comfortable every week..

Prayers that the will find just the right place...

Coop....do you know if they are still taking donations?? I really wish there was one location that would take them permanently...


5 posted on 05/01/2006 7:58:11 PM PDT by Txsleuth (...)
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To: SandRat

BTTT


6 posted on 05/02/2006 3:10:08 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: Txsleuth; dighton; BufordP; Landry Fan; Justanobody; PleaDeal; tgslTakoma; bmwcyle; ...
Coop....do you know if they are still taking donations??

Certainly. For now I'd suggest using the same address, as I'm sure the post office will forward mail for the normal 6-month (or whatever it is) period. The following organization takes the donations to support these critical dinners:

Aleethia Foundation Inc.
C/O Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse
1001 16th St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

It may not be much, but we discontinued our Hilton credit card and moved all our points from their Hilton Honors club (like frequent flier miles) to an airline club we have. The Capital Hilton and General Manager Brian Kelleher blew this big time.

7 posted on 05/02/2006 7:53:20 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: SandRat

bttt


8 posted on 05/02/2006 8:07:03 AM PDT by Landry Fan
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To: Coop; SandRat

And another bttt.


9 posted on 05/02/2006 8:51:34 AM PDT by dighton
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To: Coop; SandRat
Any idea where the dinners will be after May 5? The Hilton is to have the May 5th dinner but haven't heard anything else.

[Mr] T
10 posted on 05/02/2006 8:54:19 AM PDT by trooprally (Never Give Up - Never Give In - Remember Our Troops)
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To: Sea Shell

ping


11 posted on 05/02/2006 9:25:39 AM PDT by Landry Fan
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To: Coop

I am with you...no Hilton Hotel stays in my future.

Thanks for the address.


12 posted on 05/02/2006 10:33:04 AM PDT by Txsleuth (...)
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To: trooprally

I haven't heard about any future dinners, unfortunately.


13 posted on 05/02/2006 11:05:03 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: SandRat

Good job, Coop. BUMP!


14 posted on 05/02/2006 11:12:22 AM PDT by Albion Wilde (Got freedom? Thank a veteran.)
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To: trooprally

Nothing up on the defenselink page yet.


15 posted on 05/02/2006 11:28:36 AM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: SandRat; Coop
Thanks - I think.

It would be a shame to have a break in the Friday nite dinners.

Any chance to have the Hilton cover it beyond May 5? It won't be the same, but maybe until better accommodations are made. Maybe have them commit to, say, a month?

[Mr] T

16 posted on 05/02/2006 11:57:52 AM PDT by trooprally (Never Give Up - Never Give In - Remember Our Troops)
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To: trooprally

Maybe. But I've been underwhelmed by Hilton's response to this situation.


17 posted on 05/02/2006 12:10:43 PM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: trooprally

Maybe the DC FReepers have some word???


18 posted on 05/02/2006 4:18:05 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Coop; SandRat; All

"They don't want us to go through what they went through. ... The older vets, they said, 'This is not going to happen to this generation of veterans.'"


This is what it's all about people. Don't let the left do it again.

G-d Bless Our Troops. G-d Bless Our Veterans.


Lest we forget.


19 posted on 05/02/2006 5:52:54 PM PDT by gate2wire
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To: Coop

Well, we are all at the Marriot. ;)


20 posted on 05/02/2006 7:29:22 PM PDT by patton (Once you steal a firetruck, there's really not much else you can do except go for a joyride.)
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To: kristinn

Any idea where the wounded will go now?


21 posted on 05/02/2006 8:16:23 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Landry Fan; Coop; SandRat

Hooray! Wonderful news about Brian Anderson!

Boo-hiss to Hilton :(


22 posted on 05/02/2006 8:37:32 PM PDT by PleaDeal (Concretebob for Pres. in '08)
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To: SandRat; Coop; 2111USMC; 68 grunt; A.A. Cunningham; ASOC; AirForceBrat23; ALlRightAllTheTime; ...

Fran O'Brien's update.

This ambiance of this restaurant makes me think of a place in Denver called the Trinity Grill, perfect for this sort of gathering.

My hope and prayers are for an old-fashioned barn-raising to get this up and running in a place of its own. God bless them and help them in what they have been and continue to do for these troops.


23 posted on 05/03/2006 3:32:16 AM PDT by freema (Proud Marine FRiend, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: freema
Lord willing a permenant place shall be found where our WIA can attend with good access, and a similar ambience as was found at O'Brien's place.
Truely they deserve a little joy in their lives at this point. They have sacrificed so much. Quite frankly I had figured at this point, some group with big bucks to spare would have gotten involved and made arrangements for a like spot where these soldiers and Marines could congregate. Perhaps it shall come to be.
24 posted on 05/03/2006 8:18:31 AM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: Marine_Uncle

Well, where two or three are gathered...

+


25 posted on 05/03/2006 8:27:44 AM PDT by freema (Proud Marine FRiend, Mom, Aunt, Sister, Friend, Wife, Daughter, Niece)
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To: freema

Amen.


26 posted on 05/03/2006 9:21:55 AM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned)
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To: SandRat

Are there any sites where I can post a tribute to a Korean war veteran?


27 posted on 05/03/2006 9:24:23 AM PDT by katiedidit1
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To: SandRat; freema; Coop; armymarinemom; PleaDeal
sniff***blow***wipe

BUMP

sniff

28 posted on 05/03/2006 9:37:19 AM PDT by concretebob (We should give anarchists what they want. Then we can kill them and not worry about jail-time.)
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To: concretebob

Have you heard anything new, Bob?


29 posted on 05/03/2006 9:38:11 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: katiedidit1

Go to the FReeper Canteen and post it.


30 posted on 05/03/2006 11:23:52 AM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: Coop
No, but I haven't spoken to anyone since the MilBlog Conference.
I'll see a player on Friday.
Sounds to me Hal is just going to roll with the changes, and keep the dinners going.
Thanks for staying on top of this Coop, and for keeping me in the loop.

Almost had a jingle going there for a minute.

31 posted on 05/03/2006 11:38:21 AM PDT by concretebob (We should give anarchists what they want. Then we can kill them and not worry about jail-time.)
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To: Coop
It may not be much...

It is a great deal! Every little bit helps and you certainly do more than your share. Thanks!

32 posted on 05/03/2006 11:24:53 PM PDT by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN..Support our Troops! I *LOVE* my attitude problem. Beware the Enemedia!)
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To: Justanobody

Howdy! I'm guessing you haven't heard any updated news about Fran O'Brien's plans either?


33 posted on 05/04/2006 3:52:35 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: Coop

Nope.....was hoping you would know. ;*(


34 posted on 05/04/2006 5:02:08 AM PDT by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN..Support our Troops! I *LOVE* my attitude problem. Beware the Enemedia!)
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To: Justanobody; Coop

Ran into a former co-worker yesterday who is buds with Hal - she says he has a new location but she's not sure where it is - she'll let me know & I'll pass it on.


35 posted on 05/05/2006 10:53:06 AM PDT by nina0113
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To: nina0113; Justanobody; trooprally; tgslTakoma; bmwcyle

Thanks. I checked their website today, and it still says "Temporarily closed - hoping to re-open soon at a new location" or words to that effect.


36 posted on 05/05/2006 11:05:25 AM PDT by Coop (Proud founding member of GCA - Gruntled Conservatives of America)
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To: nina0113

Thanks Nina!! Info is greatly appreciated. Hope to see you again soon!


37 posted on 05/05/2006 11:07:43 AM PDT by Just A Nobody (NEVER AGAIN..Support our Troops! I *LOVE* my attitude problem. Beware the Enemedia!)
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To: Coop; nina0113
Thanks - Just hope its soon and there is not toooooo much of a break.

[Mr] T
38 posted on 05/05/2006 11:17:36 AM PDT by trooprally (Never Give Up - Never Give In - Remember Our Troops)
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To: SandRat
This was the best ever story and I truly thank you, Sandrat. It was today, or so, this hit the news. Months way late in the the main media. Other sources, like all the papers news we receivd via military sources - told it first. I'll do my best - as don't we all! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
39 posted on 05/05/2006 9:56:06 PM PDT by JLO (www.operationmnnice.com)
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To: JLO; ALOHA RONNIE; mhking; Vets_Husband_and_Wife; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; MeekOneGOP; jmstein7; ..

Folks taking away a good thing from vets and this is NOT a good thing!

I haven't read the whole thing yet.


40 posted on 05/06/2006 10:14:05 PM PDT by JLO (www.operationmnnice.com)
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To: JLO; All

.

Vietnam Veterans of "some" note:


HAL G. MOORE: The Legacy and Lessons of an American Warrior

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14752


The Man Who Predicted 9/11: RICK RESCORLA, ..R.I.P.

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24361



.


41 posted on 05/07/2006 5:38:07 AM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com)
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To: ALOHA RONNIE

Thank you!

Some folks know.

Thanks, ALOHA RONNIE!

Don't miss my home page. The picture is there. JLO


42 posted on 05/07/2006 6:16:10 PM PDT by JLO (www.operationmnnice.com)
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To: JLO; All

.

JLO's Freeper Home Page:

http://www.Freerepublic.com/~JLO


ALOHA RONNIE's Freeper Home Page:

http://www.Freerepublic.com/~ALOHARONNIE

.


43 posted on 05/07/2006 8:51:01 PM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE ("ALOHA RONNIE" Guyer/Veteran-"WE WERE SOLDIERS" Battle of IA DRANG-1965 http://www.lzxray.com)
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