Contact: Diane Paul
09
Nov
2020
Hershey
ZOOM from Your Home!
PA
United States of America

The speaker for the Veterans' Day program will be Helen Sajer.  

Helen Sajer is the President and founder of Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc., an all-volunteer, statewide Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation formed to assist wounded and disabled veterans of the Commonwealth to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally. Helen founded PAWW in 2007 after one of her sons, a United States Army Reserve officer, returned safely from deployment to Fallujah, Iraq. She made it her mission to ensure that every returning Pennsylvania veteran knows that the community cares and has a place to turn for assistance in readjusting to a changed life.

Helen Sajer is committed to the belief that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. Helen Sajer is a retired registered nurse and wife of a retired U.S. Army major general and former Adjutant General of the Commonwealth. Helen is the mother of six, all of whom have graduate degrees and three of whom served as Army officers, and grandmother of 15. Helen was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA and attended Coughlin High School. She graduated from the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1955 and began her practice as a registered nurse.

In 1956, Helen married Gerald T. Sajer, an Army officer who left active service after the Korean conflict to complete his education. While her husband was a student at Harvard Law School, Helen served as the secretary of the Harvard Law Wives from 1957-59. While her husband started his practice of law in central Pennsylvania, Helen not only raised their six children in Camp Hill, PA, but continued to be a contributor to the community. She was active in local politics, serving as the Democratic Committeewoman at the Camp Hill Precinct in 1974-85. She canvassed door-to-door to educate voters and registered 187 new voters, many of whom were college students. She stayed in touch with these students to ensure that they received absentee ballots and information about candidates.

As a member of the Camp Hill Junior Civic Club and Women’s Club, Helen contributed her time, energy and organizational and fund-raising skills to the betterment of the borough. Helen was an active supporter of Camp Hill High School, attended by all six children, the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Camp Hill, PA, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Abbottstown, PA.

Upon her husband’s appointment as the Adjutant General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1987, Helen elevated her community-building skills and take-care-of-your-own philosophy to the state and national levels. Helen and her husband established the nation’s first Family Support Program for the Pennsylvania National Guard, which created networks to inform and support the families of National Guard soldiers and airmen as the frequency and length of their deployments to support the war efforts in Iraq increased. Helen also conceived, established and operated an annual youth camp at Fort Indiantown Gap for the children of National Guard soldiers, serving for six years as the camp nurse. This program served as a model for many other states. Helen also undertook major organizing and fund-raising activities for Sergeant’s Grove and the Keystone Lodge at Fort Indiantown Gap, a meeting and recreation site dedicated as a living memorial to those who have served in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Helen first conceived of the PAWW to regularly visit and take a variety of donated items to Pennsylvania wounded warriors recovering at the Walter Reed/Bethesda military hospitals in Washington, DC, and to organize donations of activities, goods and services to wounded warriors. She gained community support and donations to get wounded warriors and their families away from the hospital environment for activities ranging from hunting and fishing trips with donated gear to family trips to parks, ski resorts and spectator events, and to fund incidental costs such as lodging and handicapped buses for such events, so that the wounded warriors have no out-of-pocket expenses.

As wounded warriors have come home and resettled in the Commonwealth, PAWW has risen to new challenges. For example, veterans housing programs will assist wounded warriors to acquire decent housing, but does not fund the cost of the security deposit. PAWW stepped in to fund that cost. The cost is very little – typically less than $2,000 – but the value to a veteran’s peace of mind and knowing that the community truly cares cannot be overestimated. PAWW has also become an entry point for veterans to access an array of community services. PAWW facilitates coordination between veterans and other community groups such as those seeking to donate specialized equipment and services to disabled veterans or to provide service dogs and train veterans to use them.

In recognition of her service to the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania National Guard, and her community, Helen Sajer was awarded the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal, Pennsylvania Commendation Medal, the Pennsylvania National Guard Molly Pitcher Award, and Outstanding Citizenship Award from the Borough of Camp Hill. More recently, based on her support to wounded and disabled veterans, Helen was awarded the Pennsylvania Meritorious Service Medal (first oak leaf cluster); Heroes Among Us award from the Adams County Democratic Committee; and the John F. Kennedy award from the Northeast Community Center for Behavioral Health. Helen was recognized by the Union League for her outstanding leadership of the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors and active commitment to our veterans. The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce awarded Helen its 2015 Gen. Frank Smoker Beyond the Call Award, which recognizes chamber members who support armed forces personnel and their families. Helen is also a recipient of the 2015 Jefferson Award for outstanding public service in the Susquehanna Valley sponsored locally by WGAL-TV, PSECU, and eight regional United Ways, and was selected to represent the Susquehanna Valley at the national level.