By Love's Hand

By Love's Hand

Fierce  Female Network And The We’73 Project

Vol 5 Apr 2024

Veteran of the Month, Tribute To A Blue Star Wife

The veteran of the month is Helen Sajor, born in 1933, from Camphill Pennsylvania. Mrs. Sajor comes from immigrant parents, her mother from Salvikia and her father from Ukraine. Her father was a coal miner and died in 1939 from an explosion. This left her mother to maintain the household and the three children. Her mother cleaned houses for money and they got social security, it was $14 for eac child and her mother got $20. It was enough to live on, so as the kids got older they began working too. 

Helen graduated highschool in 1952 and began school to become a nurse, and in those day that meant three years of school to become a registered nurse, but to receive a degree it was an extra two. After three years Helen was practicing medicine and she met her husband who was attending Harvard Law School. She never finished nursing school, because they had their first child and went on to have 6 more kids the following six years. Helen herself was never in the military but her husband fought in the Korean war as a ranger captain, three of her children are Army officers, and three grandchildren are in the military. She said by having so many people she loves being in the military it made her realize how big of a commitment the military is. 

Helens kids being in the military is what sparked another big event in not only her life, but so many other veterans and veterans families lives. When her one son, Frank Sajor, came home early from Iraq they started the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors in his honor. The organization is a non-profit that pays veterans bills, in some cases as soon as 48 hours, and they also point veterans in the right direction to receive the correct help they need. In the beginning the organization started when General Sajor started going to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington and seeing what the veterans needed most. It turned out it was mostly financial needs that were not being met and the mental health of the soldiers was not being taken care of. Through talking with families of veterans they learned that many soldiers were commiting suicide, because they did not feel like the person they were before enlisting. 

Shortly after this the Sajors were contacted by Walter Reed and asked if they could house soldiers for the weekend as a way to get out of the hospital and have a sense of normalcy. At this time Mr. and Mrs. Sajor were living on a farm house, with a complete guest house, a pool, and a stream for fishing so they agreed to not only have the veterans come and stay, but their families as well. They received a phone call from a mother that said they were never offered for a family to come and took up the opportunity, and after that the phone calls kept coming in. This came to a halting end when General Sajor was diagnosed with cancer and died a few months later. Helen decided that she couldn’t maintain the house and the families alone and stopped it, but it wasn’t the end of her story helping veterans. Instead she decided that she would help with any bill that veterans needed help paying and this was the beginning of the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors. 

The organization started with 6 local volunteers and now has 54 volunteers over different counties in the whole state. The biggest supporters are school, teachers, and the people who donate monthly amounts. When people learn that not only all the volunteers don’t get paid, but Helen herself does not profit from any of the donations received, it encourages people to donate, because they learn it is a good organization and the only intention is to help soldiers in need. She likes to be very upfront about where all money goes, so in the informationally brochure that is given out at all events, letters, and when meeting people it includes on the back page the amount of money donated the previous year and where the money went. Out of every donation only four cents from every dollar is used towards the brochures and the remaining 96 cents goes directly towards a veteran in need. The organization is able to stay successful even though they don’t spend money on marketing, because the biggest promotion they get is through word of mouth, whether it be a veteran they helped telling another veteran or families telling other families. 

The biggest struggle hit when Covid started in 2020, because the people who normally donate didn’t have the extra money anymore. Helen said that those who were more fortunate and in a stable financial position came through. People who were donating $25 a month started donating $50 and so on. This did help some, but at the end of the year they saw a 40% decrease in donations. The Pennsylvania Wounded maintained its ability to consistently help veterans, because of the savings that were built up from the more generous donations. In some circumstances different amounts of money were left to them in will’s. Mrs. Sajor said she has also received larger amounts of money as big as $44,000 all because of their mission and how pure it is. 

When asked if Mrs. Sajor ever expected the organization to become as big as it has, she simply said no. In the beginning Helen and her husband called it a mom and pop organization and never expected to grow to the extent it did. She believes the reason it grew into what it is, is because of the work they do and the mission they are trying to accomplish. They get donations from people who live outside of Pennsylvania from as far away as Florida. She believes these donations come from people who have moved out of state or veterans who understand how hard the struggle can be to get back on your feet. The Pennsylvania Wounded has also made its way into the local papers in different communities, which spreads the word even farther. Lastly, she believed one tactic that encourages people to keep donating is that every time they receive a donation a thank you letter is sent out to the person acknowledging the donation that was given. It shows a little bit of apparition that people deserve for being generous to those who aren’t as fortunate. 

When it comes to the future of the organization Mrs.Sajor said that as long as people need help and know of the organization it will continue to grow. As the organization does grow the opportunities to spread also continue to grow. This passing veterans day they were invited to be in the Pittsburgh parade and this opened the opportunity to spread and get volunteers on the other side of the state. At a certain spot during the parade they were announcing what each float was, and when their car went by the magnetic sticker on the side, people were donating right then, because they already understood it was a good cause. She said her hope is that one person tells another person, and then another person and the veterans who truly need the help get it. 

Mrs. Sajor said the most rewarding part of the work she does is knowing the impact it is having. She reads and saves all the thank you notes she receives, because the work she does is something that she holds a lot of pride in. One story in particular that she remembered was when a family reached out, because they had no money to plan a funeral. They were able to give the assistance, and made her think about the fact she was able to help someone who had gone everywhere else and asked for help, but got nothing. Helen sounded amazed herself while saying they can help people within 48 hours of a request coming in. She also said it is the most emotional part, because every veteran they are helping has no other support system or resource they can reach out to help them. She compared the respect that soldiers receive now and stated how deserved and impactful it is, because they have earned it. They took on a responsibility that many people couldn’t handle. 

 Over the course of the years Helen has received many awards for the work she has done, but there were two that stuck out to her the most. The first one being The Adjutant General award at the Indiantown Gap. Her picture is hung up in the hall of fame and she is the only non military or government personal features there. The other award that she was given and stood out to her was the John F. Kennedy award. It was the first award she ever received, due to the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors and it went to anyone who assisted the disabled. It was given to her by a senator who was disabled herself and in a wheelchair.  

Helen said she starts every speech she gives with the quote that General Sajor said “Those who risk their lives in combat in the defense of our nation deserve a place of honor above all others in our society. Their courage has made everything possible for us.” 

Donation can be given to the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors at https://www.pawoundedwarriors.org/donate or checks can be sent directly to 

Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors Inc.    

1013 Mumma Road                             

Suite 203                                                  

Wormleysburg, PA 17043    

Or 

Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors Inc.    

1117 Country Club road

Camp Hill, Pa 17011

Outline 

  • Who is Mrs, Sajor -3.(second part then first) 1. 
  • Who is her family 1.  2. 
  • What is pa wounded warriors and how did it start 4. 
  • Did you expect it to become as big as it is today 7. 
  • And in the future what do expect to see happen 8. 
  • What is the most rewarding part 9. 
  • What is the emotional part 11. 
  • Awards she has received 10. 
  • One funny story from her past 
  • End with highlighted quote

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