Deborah with former Ward 57 Wardmaster SFC Johnson

Deborah Semer - Operation Ward 57

Deborah Semer has always been actively involved with her community. In 1997 she earned her Executive Master’s in Not-For-Profit Leadership from Seattle University. Combining her education and her lifelong love of music and arts she soon became a member of The Seattle Arts Commission serving as the Arts Commissioner & Chair of Education Committee starting in 2003 as well as serving as the Vice Chair in 2007. Her time with the Arts Commission landed her a spot in Seattle Magazine's 2008 25 Power List. She also served as the former executive director of the Pacific NW Chapter of the Grammies. This organization is internationally known for presenting music’s highest honor, the GRAMMY Awards. It is a 501c6 membership organization with two 501c3 charitable arms, the GRAMMY Foundation (music education programs) and the MusiCares Foundation (musician emergency fund). As Executive Director Deborah worked on behalf of all three organizations in the Pacific Northwest. “Deborah Semer took us from being a very small branch in the hinterlands to being a fully fledged chapter with as much power as the other chapters in the rest of the country,” -Seattle studio owner Glenn Lorbecki, who served as chapter president stated.
As if she didn’t already have a busy schedule she founded Atmosphere Artist Management & Consulting LLC in 2004. Her artist management and consulting company represents musicians, fine artists, music businesses and not-for-profits.
But what I think is her finest contribution to date to her community was when in 2006-07 she helped Co-Found Operation Ward 57. Operation Ward 57 supports wounded warriors, their families and medical staff at Walter Reed Army Medical Center by providing items that assist in recovery, maintenance and morale of the hospital environment and through advocacy, education and promotion of their circumstances.
It all started in December 2006 when her husband SGT Scott Cameron, an LPN was transferred from Ft. Lewis in Washington State to Ward 57 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. He and his wife Deborah Semer made the cross-country journey and immediately visited WRAMC. Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington DC is the first stop for many of America’s returning wounded service members from Iraq and Afghanistan. Known as “the amputee ward”, the orthopedic Ward 57 at WRAMC houses some of the most severely injured patients for weeks or even months. Within 10 minutes of arriving, Deborah was in tears seeing all of the young amputees, and the full impact of the cost of the war on terror. Deborah picked up a copy of the Stripe military newspaper where she saw a front page picture of Condoleezza Rice and a soldier holding a black and yellow Ward 57 T-shirt. She immediately bought one to support the ward where her husband would be working. That first batch of football themed shirts was funded by “The Angels of Mercy” and were created by Lt’s Kevin Jones & Scuba Steve to match the team spirit of the soldiers on the ward and their new “home.” Deborah returned to Seattle to attend to her commitments and would end up traveling back and forth for the next 4 years to support her husband and Ward 57.
After a few months of working on Ward 57, it became clear that additional help and funding was needed to provide wanted and needed items for patient healing and care. In March of 2007, Scott asked Deborah to get some Seattle Seahawks memorabilia to boost the spirits of a depressed amputee patient from Seattle who was battling to save his remaining foot. Deborah contacted her fellow Seattle Arts Commissioner, Laura “Piece” Kelly, who was the Executive Director of former Seahawk–turned-WA-Redskin running back, Kerry Carter’s “Think Big” Foundation. Both Laura and Kerry immediately jumped in to help.
The Seattle Seahawks put together a gift package that included an NFL football personally autographed by QB Matt Hasselbeck. Deborah flew to DC with the items, where she met with Kerry and his former Stanford Quarterback, Chris Lewis to personally deliver the items to the patient. That visit made a tremendous impact on them all and had lasting beneficial effects for the patient’s spirit.
When the outpatient housing scandal hit WRAMC in February 2007 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701172.htmland hospital morale dropped to an all-time low, Deborah, Kerry and Piece created a partnership to start a new program, Operation Ward 57 through Kerry’s Think Big Foundation to recreate the Ward 57 football T-shirts for the patients, boost morale and raise funds for items needed on Ward 57. Then in 2010 Operation Ward 57 was able to break away from Think Big Foundation and earn it’s own non-profit status (tax ID # 61-1521946). For the severely wounded that arrive weekly from Iraq and Afghanistan, the war will never end; and Operation Ward 57 will continue to support them, their family members and the staff that care for them.
Her heart lies in this non profit. In the few years she has worked to get it up and running she has volunteered her time in order to make sure it succeeds. She makes several trips a year to the ward to check in and train the many volunteers who represent the non profit on a weekly basis. Last year alone the non profit was able to give out thousands of shirts, blankets and beanies to patients and families. The non profit was also able to fully stock the family room with toys, movies, games and other items in order to make the time on the ward more comfortable for the families.
I believe she deserves spouse of the year for her dedication to her husband and her country through Operation Ward 57. She is making a huge difference in the lives of these courageous and heroic men and women.

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Britt says ... on Thursday, Apr 21 at 4:23 AM

I have worked with Deborah for years and no one is more deserving than her of this award - what she does for our wounded service members is outstanding.

Tonya says ... on Wednesday, Apr 20 at 1:01 PM

Had the pleasure of working with Deborah at Ale Fest last weekend helping raise money for Operation Ward 57. In the past few weeks I've gotten to know a lot about her - and she amazes me with the passion and energy she puts into everything she does!

Catherine says ... on Tuesday, Oct 26 at 9:40 AM

I have known Deborah for years and it never ceases to amaze me how much her committment, compassion and drive to help others is always at the forefront of whatever she is doing.She is one of those rare people who actually walk their talk everyday.

joe says ... on Monday, Oct 25 at 10:19 AM

just so everybody knows Operation Ward 57 and Debra do alot more than just help soldiers at Walter Reid They do alot to help those of us who belong to the WTB at Fort Lewis. Its where soldiers in this region go to finish up there healing and recovery

jetboatgirl says ... on Monday, Oct 18 at 3:08 PM

Should read I believe she deserves The Brotherton Community Champion award for her dedication to her husband and her country through Operation Ward 57. She is making a huge difference in the lives of these courageous and heroic men and women

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