4th Annual Madigan Foundation Benefit Breakfast

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, Madigan Foundation held the 4th Annual Madigan Foundation Benefit Breakfast.  The primary speaker was CSM (Ret) Lourdes "Alfie" Alvarado-Ramos.  Following are the remarks given at the breakfast, and pictures may be found in the photo gallery.



Good morning Madigan Family, active duty members, retirees, veterans, friends and our generous sponsors.

Those of us who served at Madigan and chose to come back to or stayed in the great state of Washington, know that Madigan is a special place. Madiganites (or the Madigan Mafia during the early times) also know that this is more than a health care system. It is a dynasty of care with compassion, service to the community, education and making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged.

This is why I am delighted and honored to have been asked to be your speaker this year. And yes, I am the person who checked you in along with Rachnee and likely will remain after you depart to tidy up the place with the rest of the Foundation board! Your foundation is an organization where not task is too small as long as it is for the benefit of our military and veterans family.

I have been with the Madigan Foundation from the beginning as I was winding down my career following duties as the Hospital CSM and Troop CSM in the early 90’s. From the times of General Harrison, General Hemphil to the current Board of Directors and the Advisory Board, we have come a long way!

In the early days we had lofty goals to fund medical research and education, much like other foundations affiliated with the Military Medical Mission.

Never in our wildest dreams, did we envision being a champion and supporter of special needs kids, new mothers, those afflicted with Cancer and their logistical challenges, morale and activities for the Madigan troops and individual devices and hospital equipment not covered by DOD Health.

As time went on, we experienced the evolution of this all volunteer foundation into a feisty, opinionated, no frills, and fiercely compassionate organization. We’ve adapted to the changing landscape of our military from the Gulf War, through the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in order to respond to the emerging needs of those we serve. To my fellow Madigan Foundation board members, this is who we are and that is what we do…

Every war is followed by changes because of downsizing and the political climate. We reach each time a new normal in the provision of care and services and how - and to what extend they are funded. In a Joint Base and supporting medical facilities that project their force throughout the world, our Madigan and JBLM family is strong and resilient.

Our military and veterans community leads and serves in corporate boardrooms, not for profits, state and local governments, businesses large and small and volunteer organizations. We make an indelible mark on our state by living our service ethos. We thrive when we work as a team and see the results: innovation, diversity, action, profit and not leaving a fallen comrade behind. That is what we do...

It should then come as no surprise that while we prosper as a state and our military presence has grown, we live with the consequences of six wars and many military actions and deployments in between. Our Madigan and JBLM family is strong and resilient, but at the same time vulnerable.

I will be speaking about some issues that may feel a bit uncomfortable, but this is the reality I live every day with some of those we serve both inside and outside the gates. Please bear with me.

For a variety of reasons, Military families have an extraordinarily high number of exceptional family kids compared to their civilian counterparts. And as we know, exceptional does not necessarily mean gifted, but significantly challenged either physically, emotionally or both.

The recruitment of able bodies to sustain the fighting strength results the induction of service members with families. This causes severe income gaps at the junior ranks. Sadly, some rely on food stamps to make ends meet. 90 million dollars in SNAP funds were spent in our commissaries nationally in our last year! Just in our commissaries!

10% of those who are incarcerated in Washington State are veterans and often because of actions attributed to unaddressed or inadequately addressed mental health issues. Our military prisons are busy…and JBLM is not an exception. Incarceration runs the full spectrum of the military socioeconomic and rank structure.

The suicide rate among our troops and veterans is an exorbitant 22+ a day in our nation…233 last year in Washington State, with four being active duty…one life lost every 1.6 days.

Depression, self medication, Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury and other comorbidities are often the culprits.

We have a lot of work to do in order to help with prevention.

I just spoke about some of the impacts of a country at war, multiple deployments, exposure to exotic substances disease, separation stress for the family and financial challenges.

I will now speak about the benefits of a caring military and veteran community. Each and every one of us provides or can provide prevention services by closing the gaps that can lead to bad outcomes. That is what we do…

I am not talking about your generous financial support, but taking time to look deeper into the environmental and emotional factors that affect our Madigan Family as they seek your care or services inside and outside the gates.

It is about our being informed ambassadors and bearers of the great news that we are a ready and willing community of public and private organizations. That we understand the challenges of military life. Our service members and veterans need to know they are not alone. We have many soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and coasties who came back from recent deployments physically but have not come home emotionally. They need us…

The Madigan Foundation is one of those amazing organizations with the vision and mission to serve our Health Care System through funding education for the care staff and just in time preventive services to its beneficiaries.

I thought long and hard about what the Madigan Foundation really does for our community and the ultimate outcomes. It is not really about baby strollers, car seats, cab fare for someone transported to the emergency room who has no one to take her back home, kids’ glasses and medical appliances the military health plan will not pay for, or sending kids to Operation Purple Healing Adventures, dental screenings, or not even child care vouchers.

The Madigan Foundation is about bringing relief to families at their most critical crossroads: birth of a first child, financial duress because of unanticipated medical costs, emotional distress when ends don’t meet, the need for recognition and dignity for exceptional kids and more than likely, preventing a service or family member in a moment of hopelessness from harming themselves or others. That is what we do…

We gather today for our one and only annual fundraising event. I am proud to be part of the Madigan Foundation and the work it has done through the years. We are grateful that you answered the call and allow us to deliberately and wisely invest your generous gifts.

Thank you.

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