Got a co-worker whose son is stationed in Iraq. She sent me this about Denzel. The popular actor took part in a Purple Heart ceremony, presenting medals to three Army soldiers who were recovering in the hospital from wounds received in Iraq. Denzel visited two Fisher House facilities within walking distance of the medical center. Fisher Houses are a network of "comfort homes," essentially low-cost hotels built on the grounds of military medical centers in the U.S. and abroad that provide all the amenities of home and enable family members of servicemen Denzel Washington to stay close to loved ones who are undergoing medical treatment for illness, disease, or injury.
The city's Express-News newspaper described one of the medal recipients' reaction to her encounter with the screen star:
When Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington entered the auditorium at Brooke Army Medical Center, Spc. Connie Spinks, healing from wounds from Iraq, was content to hold his hand, get a gentle peck on the cheek and hear him whisper a sweet nothing in her ear.
"He just told me he was proud of me, and that was enough," said Spinks, who has a broken femur, fractured fibula, shattered ankle, two broken fingers and second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face.
That brief encounter was enough to lift the Asheboro, N.C., native, a world away from her memories of Oct. 13, when a suicide bomber killed two soldiers and injured Spinks, 22, and four others in a convoy.
"If I wasn't already in a wheelchair, I would have fainted" when the screen star kissed her, she said.
Oh, but there was one more thing she needed. She waved her mother, Annette, up for a hug and kiss from the leading man, who has portrayed young military heroes in "Glory" and "Crimson Tide."
"I had to do that for my mother," said Spinks, who will be treated at the hospital at least through March. "She's been here for me since October."
The modest fees charged by Fisher Houses (about $10 per night) make them accessible even to familes with tight budgets (a situation common to many military families).
As might be expected with the U.S. military's having been engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years, the demand for space in Fisher Houses at some military facilities has exceeded their capacities. According to the Fisher House Foundation, when Denzel Washington was at Fort Sam Houston in December 2004, he did visit its Fisher House and learn of their need for additional facilities, and he did later make a substantial donation to the Fisher House Foundation several months after his visit to BAMC.