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Local resident “blankets” soldiers with gratitude

by Lisa Crockett

A soldier who comes to the U.S. Military Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany is likely to need a lot of things – chiefly, medical attention. It is also distinctly possible that he or she will need other, more mundane things. A soldier evacuated from Iraq or Afghanistan will often arrive without a single personal possession, so toiletries, identification cards, and other necessary items must all be furnished. And while these are critical elements of providing care to a wounded soldier, it is a personal touch, perhaps a small piece of home, that can truly help the healing process.

“My parents came to this country from Russia and they always appreciated this country,” said Castle Pines North (CPN) resident Natalie Roesch. “When our soldiers left to fight overseas, I wanted to do something to show my appreciation.”

So she began to make fringe-edged fleece lap blankets, a few at a time, for soldiers in wheelchairs who might need a little extra help staying warm. Working with a group called Soldiers’ Angels, Roesch has sent blankets to soldiers deployed overseas for several years, sometimes also including recent copies of the local sports pages or other items soldiers might find interesting.

Through her work, Roesch made friends with a German woman named Willie Aufmkolk, who coordinates volunteer efforts and gifts for wounded soldiers who come to Landstuhl for medical treatment.

“Willie is someone who wants to serve American soldiers because of her gratitude for what this country did for the world in World War II,” said Roesch.

Aufmkolk hosts a special Oktoberfest celebration for soldiers at the Medical Center each year, providing an authentic meal and some small gifts. This year, soldiers also received a thank-you note from Roesch.

“I live in Colorado and today I can see Pikes Peak, the mountain which inspired ‘America the Beautiful,’ and today it is covered with snow,” wrote Roesch. “Each day I look at that mountain and reflect on my many blessings, and my list always includes you – our amazing fighting men and women.”

Soldiers’ Angels is involved in many different efforts to provide comforting, personal items to soldiers in battle and recovering from wounds, so help is needed in providing not only blankets but snacks, personal care items, and entertainment like books and DVDs.

“It’s really nice to feel like I’m doing something. There are a lot of ways to help, but a lap blanket is something so personal,” said Roesch. I feel like there is a nice connection there.”

For more information about Soldiers’ Angels, visit



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