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Vineyard and Valor puts focus on troops wounded in combat

Vineyard and Valor puts focus on troops wounded in combat
Sara Tompkins, of Cockeysville, from left to right, president of The Republican Women of Baltimore County, co-chair Donna Mell, of Timoniun, Patty Ensor, of Phoenix, and Bill Ensor, of Phoenix, go over details for RWBC's fundraiser at DeJon Vineyards in Hydes, Vineyard and Valor, benefitting Feherty's Troops First Foundation's Leroy Petry Village of Honor. The event is scheduled for Sept. 20 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Karen Jackson / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Supporting wounded U.S. military troops is a priority for Sara Tompkins and the 67 members of the Republican Women of Baltimore County.

That's why the organization's "Vineyard & Valor" event slated for Sept. 20 at DeJon Vineyards in Hydes means so much to her and the RWBC.

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The fundraiser is geared to help offset costs for a community of single-family homes in Riverdale, Md., where recovering post-9/11 troops and their families stay while being treated at the nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

"It is truly an honor to host this event for our wounded war fighters," the Cockeysville resident and RWBC president said.

Tompkins is quick to acknowledge that Bill and Patty Ensor deserve most of the credit for spearheading the Vineyard and Valor fundraiser.

The event features a silent auction, music by singers Matt Snook, known for his patriotic songs, and Bob Stout, whose nods to American standards are his calling card.

Food provided by Mission BBQ, drinks, wine and entertainment are included with the purchase of a $100 ticket, 200 of which already have been sold.

How the Ensors became involved in the project seems more like fate, considering that Bill Ensor and Rick Kell met by happenstance on an airplane last year.

"It was a 'divine appointment,'" said Kell, a board member and co-founder of the Feherty's Troops First Foundation, with a chuckle. "I didn't know Bill from Adam, and now Bill, Dennis (Danner, whose company donated the land for the project) and I are like the three amigos."

Kell, who will speak at the fundraiser, discovered that Bill Ensor was the chairman of the board of the National Asphalt Pavers Association and past president of Cockeysville-based Maryland Paving Inc.

Kell told Ensor, a Phoenix resident, about Troops First's plan to build what will be called the Leroy Petry Village of Honor.

"I hope you'll be able to help us put roads in," Kell told Ensor that day.

With a long career in the paving and road construction business, Ensor came through by finding donors to contribute building materials to the cause.

"It's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," said Ensor, who is now a chaplain for the Troops First Foundation.

Patty Ensor then broached the subject of a fundraiser with Donna Mell, a Timonium resident, RWBC vice president and co-chair of the event.

The idea was well received, to say the least, especially by RWBC charter member Ellen Saurebrey.

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"What a phenomenal place to hold the event," said Sauerbrey, the former Maryland gubernatorial candidate who was among the first women to form the RWBC in 1965. "There's nothing I can think of that would be more worthwhile for our troops. And I'm really looking forward to hearing Taya Kyle."

Kyle, widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, and author of "American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Renewal," will speak at the event. The movie, "American Sniper," is about her husband, who is said to be the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history.

He was killed in early 2013 by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Eddie Ray Routh, whose family claimed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Routh was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Although PTSD and other serious problems, such as suicide, afflict military personnel at an alarming rate, the prospective residents of the Leroy Petry Village of Honor will those wounded in combat.

Choosing which wounded veterans qualify for the free housing will be up to the Walter Reed medical staff, Bill Ensor said.

According to official Department of Defense data, there are an estimated 52,000 servicemen and servicewomen wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there's plenty of need for organizations such as the RWBC and the Troops First Foundation.

For the Ensors and the 67 members of the RWBC, aiding wounded veterans is a priority.

"I'm just so excited about this," Bill Ensor said about volunteering for the Troops First Foundation. "I retired at the end of last year from a job I really loved, a family business. But this is all I do now, and I'm having the time of my life."

Tompkins added that her organization is happy to be involved.

"Without the commitment of these courageous men and women, none of us would be able to call America our home," Tomkins said. "It's only fitting that we work to make sure that they have a home when they return from battle."

Vineyard and Valor fundraiser

Who: Republican Women of Baltimore County

What: Vineyard & Valor

When: Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: DeJon Vineyards

5300 Hydes Road.

Hydes, MD 21082

Tickets: republicanwomenbc.com

Phone: 443-253-9802

Fax: 410-592-2996

Cost: $100

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