D.O.V.E. Fund
Featured Honorary Member
Linda Stocker

 Linda Stocker

 Founder: Bandage Brigade
 Spouse: Sgt Gary Stocker - Veteran
 
 Board Member, Retired

 D.O.V.E. Fund member since 2008

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Linda Stocker  
Written by Sgt Gary Stocker:
In 2005 I travelled to Vietnam to rid myself of the baggage acquired during my time as a long-range recon infantryman some 35 years before. Assigned with the 101st Airborne Division, we lived in the jungle and went on extensive recon missions, all the while enduring the frequent sprayings of the herbicide, Agent Orange.

My 2005 return trip did nothing to shed the bad memories but instead showed me the good side of what was once my enemy. I was reminded that the Vietnamese are warm, friendly people who, like us, were caught in the middle of a brutal conflict that changed the lives of everyone involved.

I saw for the first time the beauty of the country side, the remote villages and the young faces of a new generation of Vietnamese, most of whom who born after the war was long behind them. I was also disturbed to see the people, who struggled every day years ago, not to have progressed with the passage of time. The ethnic minorities, our allies during the war, were still living in primitive villages in the highlands. Most were without clean water, electricity and medical care. I had an affection for these people wanted to do something to help.

This was especially true after meeting with the many lepers who were suffering from their wounds, After discussions with my wife, Linda, we agreed to help the lepers anyway we could. We started with food and a few cotton bandages to wrap the damaged limbs. These bandages were well received and because they were washable and more durable, we learned that many more were needed. We went back home and enlisted the help of volunteer knitters to make the precious bandages.

In 2009, we met with Tom Treece of the D.O.V.E. Fund. We eventually developed a partnership with the D.O.V.E. Fund to help us spread the word of the Bandage Brigade and to help us transport the thousands of bandages that were now arriving at our home in Washington.

In 2010, Linda and I again traveled with the D.O.V.E. Fund to Vietnam to distribute bandages. By this time, my Agent Orange ravaged body required the use of crutches but we carried on. Our friend and volunteer tour guide, Mr. Minh, took us to several remote leper villages west of Pleiku. The people, but especially the children, were touched by the generosity of the D.O.V.E. Fund. Mr. Minh pointed out that many of the people were starving and destined to a life of poverty. Linda proposed a plan to raise funds to buy food, blankets and clothing for the needy in the villages which was approved by the D.O.V.E. Fund Although my medical condition prevented subsequent visits to Vietnam, the D.O.V.E. Fund returned several times with gifts of rice, cooking oil, flour, tea and other necessities of daily living to these remarkable people.

Current Update:
In 2015, Gary Stocker passed away due to complications from exposure to Agent Orange. Although Linda’s priorities as caretaker took some time away from her role on the Bandage Brigade, the project continued to provide thousands of bandages to the lepers in Vietnam. In addition, the relief program initiated by Linda and Gary also brought much needed food and clothing to hundreds of families in the desolate hills of the Central Highlands.

Mission Accomplished:
Earlier in 2017, it was determined that the Bandage Brigade had achieved its mission. Combined with a declining rate of new leprosy cases in Vietnam along with a steady supply of new, reusable bandages, Linda Stocker requested that her volunteer knitters to seek alternative uses for any new bandages.

Linda is proud of the work she and Gary have done. They established an organization that became international in scope with knitters from around the world. They also raised awareness of the debilitating disease of leprosy not only in Vietnam but throughout the world. This awareness has improved medical treatment and will undoubtedly make a significant impact on the elimination of this terrible disease. The D.O.V.E. Fund will continue to assist the lepers of Vietnam and is proud to have partnered with Linda and Gary Stocker on the Bandage Brigade.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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