Letter from the U.S. Surgeon General to the MRC's

Medical Reserve Corps units across the U.S. received a heartfelt message of appreciation from Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona. The response of MRCs to support relief efforts from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma proved so pivotal that Dr. Carmona sent this message to the volunteers on November 22, 2005 to acknowledge their efforts. We are pleased to share this letter with our members and other interested readers. UMVMRC

The first Thanksgiving was held by colonists in celebration of a plentiful harvest after a harsh winter. Not as pilgrims, but as volunteers, many return home this Thanksgiving to celebrate their good fortune after helping those affected by three cruel and ruthless storms of the 2005 hurricane season. There is a lot to be thankful for this year.

As Medical Reserve Corps members, we have spent much of our recent days, weeks and months assisting in the response and recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast. While doing so, we have seen pain, suffering and devastation, but also a will to come back stronger and a desire to rebuild. From our experiences, we come away thankful for our safety, health, and homes, as well as the countless routine things we do each day, but often take for granted. Now, going to the grocery store or flicking on a light switch will cause us to feel a bit more grateful and hold more meaning.

We also have each other. Through teamwork on deployments and in our local communities, the MRC has continued to do important work. Yet we could not do this work alone. Because of the special support of co-workers, friends and family while we conducted response activities, our homes and offices continued to run smoothly. The willingness of those around us to carry on, while we deployed, set-up shelters, staffed hotlines and held training sessions, is to be applauded. Without the assistance of these important individuals, volunteers with the MRC would not have been able to execute their mission of strengthening public health infrastructure in communities and responding in the event of a disaster. Please make sure, as I will, to include your colleagues, families and friends when giving thanks this holiday season.

This Thursday I will be spending the day with my loved ones, counting the many blessings in my life. You, your families, and the many others who have helped us in our mission, during what was a truly unforgiving hurricane season, will be on the top of my list.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S.

Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Corps, 55 Main Street, Westford, MA 01886