Cooped up in a car for hours at a time traveling 1,500 miles round trip can cause the mind to wander.
On his way home from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune on the North Carolina coast, Stephen Cipot said, he suddenly recalled a line from Homer’s “Iliad.”
“They sacrificed their wounds for our country’s liberty, this eye I forfeit for them,” Cipot said.
Cipot, a member of the New Hyde Park-Mineola Runners Club, traveled to Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, a United States Army base also in North Carolina, this month with Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior to deliver supplies to wounded soldiers, veterans and their families.
Items delivered to the installations included 60 iPads, 10 PCs, new clothing, gift cards, children’s toys and other supplies often not provided by the military, Cipot said.
“It was a lot of work, as well as physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, but most important it was exceptionally rewarding,” Cipot said.
Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, a nonprofit group now in its 14th year, is composed of firefighters and EMS volunteers from the county, often joined by other volunteers like Cipot. Though not directly affiliated with the Wounded Warriors Project or any other Wounded Warrior operations, the group often collects and delivers clothing, electronics and sympathy cards to troops.
The group hosts fundraisers and accepts donation throughout the year. Recently, students at the John Lewis Childs Elementary School in Floral Park donated $400 to the organization from an American flag fundraiser.
Cipot and two U-Hauls full of supplies departed for Fort Bragg on Dec. 5. Cipot and the other volunteers visited several military programs, including severe trauma treatment, physical therapy, PTSD and transition programs.
The military, according to Cipot, has developed a programmatic approach to treating those wounded in service, with a focus toward long-term healing and transitioning back into military service or civilian life.
“We don’t hear much about the good things that are being done for wounded soldiers these days,” Cipot said. “This was a welcome eye opener for me.”