WASHINGTON -- From the ancient Greek lore of Achilles' heel to the high-stepping travails of Forrest Gump, symbolic importance has often been placed on soldiers' feet in Western fiction.
Airplus Footcare understands the importance of the servicemembers' feet. That's why the company said it has donated about 10,000 Sport & Work Insoles in a two-year period to help alleviate American troops' foot pain.
Airplus Footcare is headquartered in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. Its parent company, Implus Footcare LLC, is known for innovative footcare technology. Its products are distributed in more than 50,000 retail stores in more than 65 countries.
Airplus decided to donate the insoles after receiving numerous e-mail requests from troops around the world, according to Aolani Donegan, company assistant marketing manager. Many requests came from servicemembers who use the insoles back home in the states and swear by the relief they provide.
Some servicemembers spend upward of 12 to 18 hours per day on their feet, so foot upkeep is crucial, she noted. Not only is footcare vital to one's feet, Donegan pointed out, it is important to the overall health of the body, because many other ailments begin with the feet.
"When a person walks or stands for long spells, the majority of the body weight is absorbed by the heel," Donegan said. "The contoured shape and gel heel on these insoles absorbs most of the shock, taking the pressure off the user's back, knees and feet. In essence, what you're getting is cushioning with every step."
Airplus officials said that they are delighted to help the troops and that the company attempts to honor every request it receives from servicemembers.
The troops have appreciated the company's goodwill and have sent several e-mail messages and letters of thanks to Airplus' offices.
For example, Chaplain (Maj.) Lucas wrote: "On behalf of soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment - Thank you for the box of insoles you sent. ... I set them out on a table in our picnic area and almost immediately soldiers began picking them up. God bless you for your patriotic support of our troops."
Servicemembers have also responded with tangible gestures of thanks. Third Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, a sub-unit of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sent two signed flags to the Airplus employees. Donegan hangs one flag outside of her work cubicle, while the other is proudly displayed in the company's lobby.
Donegan is encouraged by what our troops are accomplishing overseas. "Everyday I look around with a renewed sense of faith, strength and courage," she said.
Airplus is also a sponsor of NASCAR driver John Andretti, who recently visited sailors in Bahrain, where he handed out free insoles. Donegan said the sailors really enjoyed the visit and the insoles.
"We are honored as a company, and as Americans to be able salute the sacrifices they have made by offering comfort in difficult times," company president Todd Vore said.