Katrina volunteer atop first lady’s list

Published: February 1, 2006 | 3416th good news item since 2003

Theresa Shamlian, a Houstonian who helped the displaced masses at the Reliant Astrodome after Hurricane Katrina, was a guest Tuesday of first lady Laura Bush for the president’s State of the Union address.

Shamlian was chosen as a representative of the more than 100,000 volunteers who assisted relief efforts after the hurricane, said Harris County Judge Robert Eckels.

“She is very enthusiastic and energetic in her job,” said Mark Sloan, coordinator for the organization.

Shamlian and her husband, Robert, were flown to Washington on Monday and had a tour of the White House, Sloan said.

The 51-year-old former planner for Continental Airlines became a full-time volunteer after retirement.

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the anti-war movement, was taken into custody by police in the House gallery Tuesday just before President Bush’s address.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan and covered it up until she took her seat.

Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, Schneider said.

Sheehan was taken in handcuffs to police headquarters a few blocks away, where she was to be released on her own recognizance.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., had invited Sheehan to the address as her guest. “I’m proud that Cindy’s my guest tonight,” Woolsey said before the speech. “She has made a difference in the debate to bring our troops home from Iraq.”

First lady Laura Bush’s guests certainly were diverse. One, in fact, wasn’t even human.

Rex, a 5-year-old German shepherd, fit in with the other Iraq war veterans who were guests of lawmakers.

His owner, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jamie Dana, awoke in a military hospital last summer badly injured by a bomb in Iraq and crying for her bomb-sniffing dog. It would take an act of Congress before she could take him home to Pennsylvania.

The Air Force said that by statute, Rex needed to finish the remaining five years of his useful life before he could be adopted. Dana’s congressman, Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., helped abolish that policy, the White House said.

Published in Hurricane Katrina, Volunteer
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