GJ woman traveling to U.S. capital to meet son, represent mothers’ group

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Wendy Hoffman holds a photo of her son.Art to go with Melinda’s LS story.Sent as LS VETS DAY 2.




One of the activities the Grand Valley Blue Stars Mothers does annually is gather presents to ship to military servicemen and women for the holidays.

To ensure the Blue Stars Mothers have time to package and mail boxes to military personnel, the deadline for gifts is Nov. 30.

This year, unwrapped items can be dropped off weekdays at First Christian Church, 1326 N. First St.

Blue Star Mothers will have a packing party at the church at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

Last year, the local Blue Star Mothers mailed 175 packages.

A list of ideas of what to get military personnel is available at gvbluestarmothers.org or by e-mailing president Sherry Verdieck at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Breakfast at the White House will be delicious.

Rubbing shoulders with the country’s top generals will be an honor.

But Grand Junction’s Wendy Hoffman is most excited about her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., for one reason: her son.

Hoffman’s son, Army Spc. Dallas Hanson, is being flown from where he is stationed in northern Iraq to Washington, D.C., to meet his mother for a slate of Veterans Day events, including several ceremonies and a black tie gala with Gen. David Petraeus and retired Gens. Colin Powell and Wesley Clark, among other dignitaries.

Hoffman will be an honored guest at numerous Veterans Day activities in Washington because she is the national president of the Blue Star Mothers Of America Inc., a national organization for mothers with children serving or who have served in the U.S. military.

While attending Veterans Day events, Hoffman plans to tell anyone and everyone about Blue Star Mothers.

“I’m going armed with business cards,” Hoffman said.

Look out, Washington, D.C.

And, best of all, Hoffman will be accompanied by her son.

Hanson, 24, was scheduled to leave northern Iraq on Friday and arrive in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening.

Good thing, because Hanson is to be her escort to breakfast at the White House at 8:30 Wednesday morning, Hoffman said.

“I did not know Dallas was going to be there until recently,” Hoffman said. “All of this has just fallen into place.”

After breakfast, the mother and son will take part in a morning ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where Hoffman will participate in the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. That ceremony is closed to the public.

Following the visit to Arlington, Hanson and Hoffman will mingle at a reception at the Mayflower Hotel hosted by the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Hoffman then will go back to Arlington for a ceremony hosted by Women in Military Service For America.

On Wednesday evening, the pair will attend a CAUSE — Comfort for America’s Uniformed Services — gala dedicated to helping America’s wounded. Several generals will be in attendance, which has Hoffman excited and her son more than a little nervous.

“I have been many shades of excited in the past two weeks alone,” wrote Hanson in an e-mail sent Thursday from Iraq. “At one point, I was informed there was a four-day delay, which would have meant I would be in the states by the 11th or 12th at least. That made me quite nervous. Of course, I was equal parts excited and nervous about heading to D.C. after finding out that not only would I be attending a black tie benefit gala with my mom, but that I would also be having breakfast at the White House.”

One of the largest sources of stress for Hanson, according to Hoffman, is what he will wear to the events. The only clothing Hanson has in the Middle East are his ACUs, or Army combat Uniforms. ACUs are prohibited at the White House.

Hanson’s dress attire, which is usually worn by soldiers to official functions, is locked in storage at his home base in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Determined to not let something like clothes get in the way of her son accompanying her, Hoffman made some phone calls and connected with a military base outside Washington, D.C.

“They will get two or three civilian suits ready, and he can pick out what we wants,” Hoffman said.

Hanson has never owned a civilian suit.

“He said, ‘Mom, if I’m in a civilian suit, I will gladly escort you to the gala,’ ” Hoffman said, remembering a previous e-mail from her son.

On Thursday, Hoffman will return with Hanson to Grand Junction, where he will spend the rest of his military leave before returning to Iraq. Hanson’s 25th birthday is Saturday, and it will be the first time in four years he will celebrate it at home.

While Hoffman is proud to have her son at her side in Washington, D.C., or at home, Hanson is just as pleased.

“It makes me very proud seeing how far she has gone, how much effort and time she has put into that organization,” Hanson wrote in an e-mail. “Knowing that my mom supports me in everything I do as a soldier ... I know many of my teammates look forward to my care packages because there is always something extra in there that I share with them.”


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