JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Miss America Savvy Shields, the former Miss Arkansas, visited with wounded warriors, families and staff at Brooke Army Medical Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston July 12.
Sporting her beauty pageant crown, BAMC staff and patients lined up to receive her autograph and take a “selfie” with her in the hospital’s Medical Mall, followed by a visit with wounded warriors at the Center for the Intrepid, BAMC’s rehabilitation facility. Earlier in the day, Shields spent time with warriors recovering in the inpatient wards.
“It’s amazing,” she said during her CFI tour. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Shields was accompanied by retired Chief Warrant Officer Levi Rodgers, a wounded warrior who recovered at BAMC several years ago. A local real estate business owner, Rodgers crossed paths with Miss America during a charity auction in Las Vegas recently.
“The last auction item was Miss America,” he recalled. After a heated bidding war, he won Miss America with a $20,000 contribution to the charity.
With a day at his disposal, Rodgers decided he wanted to bring Miss America to BAMC to visit with fellow warriors. His aim was to return the good will he felt when celebrities came to visit him in the hospital.
Rodgers was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan Sept. 15, 2009 while on patrol in the Nimroz province. He broke his legs, back and neck and suffered 40 percent total body burns. He had a long road to recovery, but found comfort in the hospital visits, particularly one from professional golfer Tim Simpson.
“I didn’t know much about golf, but I knew who he was,” Rodgers said. “We’re still friends to this day. For him to take the time to come to BAMC to visit and shake hands; it has a big impact.”
Life was rocky after he left the service, Rodgers noted, but through hard work he persevered and became a real estate agent. Today, he’s a successful business owner. “The whole purpose of what I do is to show anyone can do it.”
After he won the auction, Rodgers was intent on bringing Miss America to BAMC to cheer up fellow warriors and witness the care here.
“If it wasn’t for BAMC and the Burn Center, I wouldn’t have what I have today,” he said. “I’d like to put smiles on their faces like people put on my face.”