Woodbridge, Va. --
For almost a decade, Joe Finch has dedicated his time and service visiting and caring for wounded service members from the Washington, D.C., area to New Jersey. The Civilian Marine did not seek recognition. Nevertheless, he has received the 2009 Spirit of Hope award.
The Wiegand Foundation, in coordination with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, established the Spirit of Hope Award military program to recognize distinguished Americans and organizations whose patriotism and service reflect that of Bob Hope.
Finch is Environmental Programs Manager for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Program headquartered in Woodbridge, Va. EFV falls under Program Executive Officer, Land Systems. After a full day’s work, he still finds time to visit patients at the National Naval Medical Center, Md.; Walter Reed Army Medical Center, D.C.; and McGuire Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, N.J. Finch also coordinates monthly dinners for hospitalized service members, their families and staff of the McGuire VA Hospital to lift their spirits and show how much people truly care about them.
Since 2002, Finch has been an active member of the Armed Forces Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing support to wounded and hospitalized service members injured in combat and their families through a variety of personal services.
“I always take time to listen to each person’s story,” he said. “Then I share a few of my own from my days in Vietnam.”
After countless hours at all three hospitals visiting and talking with wounded service members at all hours of the day and night, patients have come to refer to Finch as “Uncle Joe.” Along the way, he developed special, long-standing personal relationships with several of the injured service members.
“The most important thing I provide is hope,” he said. “I want to give everyone hope that tomorrow will be brighter because people care.”