Veterans celebrate Christmas ‘at home’ in Troy

Published 8:46 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

Maybe they are the forgotten men. Maybe not. But sometimes it seems as though they are — the men in the Veterans Home here in Troy.

The home is actually home to 17 men who have served their country and now look to their county to help supply their needs.

“We have 17 men who are permanent residents of the Veterans Home in Troy, said Clarence Scott, director. “ Right now, we serve 22 men in all. Some of them are drop-ins who come when their families need to be away for a few hours or a day or two. Then we have a couple of veterans who need someone to go to their houses and stay with them when their families need to be away. We provide different services. We provide what these veterans need.”

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The need is sometimes a place to stay overnight when a situation arises. Sometimes it’s a ride to a doctor’s appointment but whatever the need, it’s provided for the men who answered the call to duty.

And, when it’s Christmastime, Scott said the staff of the Veterans Home does its best to make the season a happy one for the veterans.

“Some of the veterans are forgotten men,” he said. “Some have a few visitors and some get a few packages but some of them are just forgotten. But, sometimes people or organizations will call and ask is there anything that we can do for your guys and they’ll bring by baskets or something.”

Scott said the one thing that he makes sure the veterans have is a traditional Christmas dinner.

“We want them to have that,” he said. “We’ll have a tree and the dinner but, for the most part, that’s it. They all enjoy the big dinner and they really like getting the baskets. That’s about all the Christmas they have now.”

But Scott was not counting on Santa Claus but the veterans know that he’ll come.

“Santa Claus always comes,” said Daniel James Williams, with a smile. “He brings us things like razors, saving cream and fruit. That’s enough for a good Christmas. We’re proud of whatever we get.”

Williams has been a resident of the Troy Veterans Home for five years, so has his friend James Bickerstaff. Both served in the air force and both came to the home from “troubled” situations. They have found friendship and a sense of belonging at the home.

“I like it here and it keeps my mind busy,” Williams said. “I went home for Thanksgiving but I like being here at Christmas, so I stayed.”

Bickerstaff said Christmas is quite different at the home from the way it was at “home” when they had family clustered around them.

“But it’s still Christmas,” he said. “We eat dinner together and sit around and talk about how Christmas was when we were at home.”

Williams remember one of his most treasured gifts was a typewriter that he received when he was 13 years old. For Bickerstaff, it was a B-B gun when he was around 10 years old.

Although the talk is often of memories of childhood, Williams said the men always get around to the real reason for the season.

“Christmas is about the Christ Child that was born on that day,” he said. “The Christ Child that came into the world to save us from our sins.”

No matter where or how Christmas is celebrated, at home with family or in a “home” with those who share a different kinship, it all comes down to the real reason and “that’s Jesus Christ, the savior of the world,” the veteran friends said.