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Veterans receive gifts at VA

VFW, VFW Auxiliary representatives deliver presents, cards to 40

Mirror photo by Walt Frank / Van Zandt VA Medical Center Director Sigrid Andrew watches as Ron Pawuk (right) presents a Christmas basket to resident William Hammond on Sunday at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center.

Christmas came early on Sunday at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center.

Representatives from the VFW and VFW Auxiliary paid a visit to deliver gifts and cards to the 40 nursing home residents and nearly a dozen inpatients at the facility.

The veterans received a basket full of personal care items such as shampoo, body wash, deodorant, nail clippers, combs, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

They received a blanket, a coupon book for the canteen and a coupon for a haircut as well as a bag for the items they purchase at the canteen.

The gifts and visits are very important to the veterans.

“Some of them are here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For some, we are the only visitors they get for periods of time. It makes me feel really good that I am helping my fellow veterans. Most of them are combat veterans like myself. To help my fellow veterans and give them some pleasure with life is important,” said Ron Pawuk of Saxton, VFW volunteer services representative and former District 17 commander.

Linda Dilling of Martinsburg, VFW Auxiliary volunteer services representative, has been volunteering at the VA medical center since 2009.

“You get more from giving and doing for the men. When you see someone who is depressed and put a smile on their face, you get back more than you give. We make them feel like we care, that they are not left behind. I feel great joy. When I leave here, I feel good,” Dilling said.

Director Sigrid Andrew, who is spending her first Christmas at Van Zandt, said the amount of support from the community has been overwhelming.

“We’ve had a group here daily since Veterans Day. The community has provided so much support here, more than I have ever seen. That is wonderful for our veterans who sometimes don’t see anyone but health care workers,” Andrew said.

Throughout the year, many organizations have visited the veterans. They are to be recognized, as well, said Andrea Young, center spokeswoman.

Those groups include: American Legion and Auxiliary,Vietnam Veterans of America, Horseshoe Chorus, Pirate Care O Van, Blair County Tea Party, State College Elks, American Legion Auxiliary — Petersburg, Sweet Adelines, Home Helpers, Wells Fargo, Combat Veterans Group, Horseshoe Curve Harley-Davidson Chapter and AM Vets and Auxiliary.

The center’s employees also have played a key role.

On Saturday, the employees association took a busload to Arlington National Cemetery where the group laid wreaths.

“Our employees did this on their own time. You can’t ask for more than to have employees who are passionate about the veterans and care about them,” Andrew said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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