#CadetsForHealthWorkers: NJROTC Sends Thank You Notes Amid Pandemic



Article written by Cadet Andres Rodriguez '21. 

On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Maureen Hecker-Rodriguez, my mother and a doctor at East Jefferson Hospital, reached out to Commander Bruce Nolan ‘90 proposing the idea of writing thank you letters to doctors and medical workers who are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Commander Nolan then reached out to the NJROTC cadets asking us to write up notecards to send out. On Saturday, my mother printed out the notecards Commander Nolan sent to her and delivered them to emergency department workers, ICU workers, and hospital staff. The notes were greatly appreciated by all the hospital workers and even received recognition by WDSU News on Monday at 5:00 PM.

As an NJROTC cadet, I felt obligated to help in this project as I am aware of how low the morale is in hospitals in New Orleans. By writing these thank you letters, I knew it could help boost the morale of the hospital staff and let them know we are here to support them. Even though writing thank you letters was the most we could do to help health care workers, it was a great way to provide them support during this rough time.

Article written by Commander Bruce Nolan '90.

Last week, I was contacted by a student's parent that is a healthcare professional. She knows that our NJROTC does a lot of community service work and asked if we could help in some small way.

She said the situation was very difficult in the healthcare community right now. The coronavirus hit our city hard and cases continue to grow. Our system is getting overwhelmed. But the workers are responding. They are doing everything they can to manage this crisis.

Since this crisis started, cadets asked if they could get involved in some way. They understand that the best thing they can do is follow the CDC guidelines to help stop the spread. But some of them really want to help. When the parent contacted me, she asked if we could organize a drive similar to the USO letters I received when I was in the military. I flew with the medical community on Humanitarian Aid missions from the USNS Mercy hospital ship, Air Ambulance in Kuwait and Iraq, Search and Rescue, and Medical Evacuations. Medical professionals are an amazing group of people that need our support right now. This crisis is putting a strain on them as individuals.

Within 24 hours, I had 55 letters from our cadets showing their support and gratitude for the community. It is a small token, but it is something they can do to help. I know that when I was deployed in stressful situations, knowing that strangers cared was a morale boost. We sent these letters to a few of the local hospitals and are working to find more volunteer coordinators that would be interested in receiving these letters.

Some hospitals have published guidelines on ways you can help. Please do not contact a hospital directly unless they have a dedicated volunteer coordinator.

Our cadets are amazing. But I know that our Brother Martin family can help also. If you would like to add a letter to a healthcare worker, send a PDF or scan of a handwritten or typed letter to bnolan@brothermartin.com with the subject line #CrusadersForHealthWorkers.

Here are the guidelines I posted for my cadets:
- Address it generic. Don't say "doctor." Use "Dear Healthcare Worker."
- Keep it personal. Why do you think their work is so important? It is ok to say you don't fully understand.
- Keep it positive. Thank them for getting us through it. Tell them you support them.
- Tell them you will do your part. Tell them what you are doing to help prevent the spread of this disease.
- Sign it. Your name is OPTIONAL. But please let them know if you are a high school student, parent, etc. This can be typed. You add a real signature to give it an even more personal touch.

Thanks for being a Crusader.

Commander Bruce Nolan, USN Retired
Class of 1990
Senior Naval Science Instructor, Brother Martin High School

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