Angels of Mercy Program



In 2003, Angels of Mercy program founders, Marian Chirichella and Jay Edwards, went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center [WRAMC] to become American Red Cross volunteers in support of our Operation Iraqi Freedom [OIF] and Operation Enduring Freedom [OEF] combat casualties. When they saw how little support was available, they used their years of professional project management experience to build the Angels of Mercy program, which is now known and respected, not just at WRAMC, but at Combat Support Hospitals [CSH] in Afghanistan and Iraq; Forward Operating Bases like Camp Korean Village and Q-West; an R&R facility in Qatar; and at several Fisher Houses across the Country.


Realizing that the first step in building their program was to establish credibility, Marian and Jay decided to center the program in American Legion Auxiliary Unit 270 in McLean, Virginia, where Marian is the Unit President. Jay, a Navy veteran, is Commander of McLean Post 270. In rapid succession, they gave speeches in their community, contacted service organizations across the country, organized fund raising in states where they had contacts, and received substantial press coverage.


The response in 2003 was enormous. Americans just had to be made aware that help was needed for our wounded and injured men and women. Almost immediately the newly created Angels program was able to take thousands of dollars of clothing and comfort items to WRAMC for distribution to the wounded. In those first weeks, Marian and Jay became familiar with the Walter Reed Fisher Houses and the families residing there  almost exclusively the families of the wounded men and women. At that time they started personally shopping for food and other needed items for the families and delivered them to the Fisher Houses prior to their weekly visit to the recently wounded military in the hospital wards. Sometimes Marian or other Auxiliary members cooked a meal for the families.





Fisher House III at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; weekly delivery of groceries for the three Fisher Houses; Angel volunteers assembling patio furniture at FH III; family BBQ at FH III patio.

The Angels of Mercy Program also sponsors special events like holiday gift giving, Super Bowl parties, baby showers, and escorts off-campus trips. The Angels sponsored a visit to Walter Reed by Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk; and the celebrated St. Patricks Episcopal School Childrens Choir has been brought to the Mologne House the past two years to launch the December Holiday Season.


Since 2003, hundreds of Christmas presents have been wrapped and delivered to patients and family members at the Walter Reed Mologne House Christmas Brunch, shipped to Combat Support Hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and sent to Forward Operating Bases Camp Korean Village and Q-West.

The Angels program brings young singers to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to entertain recovering military and their families; singers take a moment to bring a smile to the face of a military dependant; volunteers prepare to give a baby shower for expectant mother.

Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk was invited to Walter Reed by the Angels Program. He spent several hours visiting with the wounded and signing autographs; special design cakes and a buffet are part of the Angels of Mercy Program Super Bowl parties at Walter Reed.


The original Angels of Mercy Program still flourishes four years after it was launched and has served over 5,000 wounded and injured men and women and their families at WRAMC. However, we are particularly proud to have been able to expand the program in the last couple of years to include deeper support at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; and support for in zone Combat Support Hospitals, Forward Operating Bases, and units supporting children with clothing and school supplies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are some details.

The exceptional medical staff at Walter Reed is constantly looking for new ways to improve the lives of the wounded they serve. Unfortunately, budgeted funding is not always available to implement these creative ideas, and no other source of funding has become available. After the Angels of Mercy Program received the Newmans Own Award in 2004 as the best volunteer program in the Country supporting our active duty military and their families, the Angels were discovered on the Internet by thousands of Americans who responded with great generosity to the Program. As a result, we have had the resources to reach out in many new directions in recent years to help the staff implement their projects.


Here are some of the functional areas at Walter Reed the Angels of Mercy have supported recently and the unique items we provide:


Orthopedic and Neurological Nursing:

7        Frenchey E-Tran Frame allows men and women who cannot speak to communicate with eye movement.  Words are spelled out by moving their eyes from letter to letter affixed to a clear Lucite board enabling the other person to track the letter choices

7        Books to help men and women with spinal cord injuries move forward with their lives

7        Amputeddies to help staff explain amputation to the children.  Designed by an amputee, these teddy bears have removable limbs with remaining appendage stumps

7        Books so children can understand amputation

7        Pit Pillows to ease irritation from crutches

7        Appointment books to help Traumatic Brain Injured [TBI] patients remember appointments

7        Electric razors for amputees and facial injury patients



Occupational Therapy

7        Special sling type back packs used by arm amputees.  Backpacks are filled with items to make it easier for those with one arm to maintain themselves such as:  electric razor; electric toothbrush; items specially designed for the one-handed -- nail clippers, food cutting boards, can openers, paper staplers, letter openers, knorks (combination knife and fork), and wallets; as well as inspirational materials such as art calendars made by one-handed artists, the following books:  Blood Brothers, Among the Soldiers of Ward 57 and One-Handed in  Two-Handed World.

7        Bottled water, juices, fruit and healthy snacks for patients to take back to their rooms following occupational therapy sessions


Physical Therapy

7        Bottled water and healthy snacks for patients to take back to their rooms following physical therapy sessions

7        Gatorade when needed to replenish what the body loses during rigorous therapy sessions


Orthopedic Ward 57

7        Specially designed Ward 57 T-shirts to build fraternity and spirit within the amputee ward


Oncology Ward 71

7        Special pillows and warm items for patient comfort

7        A special baby shower with items requested by a dying soldier


Fisher Houses

7        Provide water coolers in the kitchen of each of the 3 houses

7        Baby formula, diapers, cribs and other requested items

7        This is in addition to the $300-500 in food supplied every week


Mologne House Hotel and other on campus living facilities

7        Port-a-cribs, formula and clothing items for new born babies

7        Healthy snacks for residents


Red Cross

7        Clothing and comfort items for in hospital military as needed


Here is a summary of projects we have undertaken in Afghanistan, Iraq, and at the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, KY in recent months:


Combat Support Hospitals [CSH]

7        Provide a variety of requested clothing and comfort items for patients

7        Provide hundreds of Holiday presents and decorations for patients and staff


101st Airborne, Fort Campbell, KY

7        Provided requested items for a deployed battalion from a list provided by a wounded Company Commander

7        Provided financial support for a battalion memorial in honor of its men killed in combat


Helmet upgrades for deployed Marines

7        In response to a request from the parents of two marine company commanders, provided helmet upgrade kits for both companies to better protect the marines from roadside bombs



At various locations in Iraq and Afghanistan


7        Have provided thousands of items of school supplies to deployed units to give to school children

7        Have provided thousands of items of clean, used clothing to deployed units to give to children


Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and volunteers from the Greater McLean Community gather at McLean Post 270 periodically to sort and ship clean, used clothing for Afghan and Iraqi children. Over 15,000 pieces of clothing have been sent so far. Additionally, many thousands of items of school supplies have been sent for schools in Kabul, Afghanistan and an Iraqi school in Q-West near the Syrian border.



Children in Kabul, Afghanistan receiving clothing and school supplies sent by the Angels of Mercy Program and distributed by U.S. Military units. The school in Kabul has no heat or electricity so did not open until Spring 2007. Now 2,700 Afghan boys and girls go to school  many for the first time.

The Angels of Mercy Program has been sending the 28th Combat Support Hospital requested items for patients, staff and Iraqi children for over two years. The 28th CSH is in the Green Zone, Baghdad. It was featured recently in the Discovery Channel documentary, Baghdad ER.




7        Provide civilian clothing for military called home for emergencies. (They can not wear uniforms on commercial Kuwait flights)



7        Working with the Office of the Secretary of Energy, fill wish lists from an U.S. R&R location in Qatar to provide better recreation to military sent there for rest and relaxation