American Legion Post/Auxilary visit veterans in Tuskegee
Published 2:00 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015
American Legion Post 70 in Troy and its Auxiliary have established a longtime Christmas tradition of helping make Christmas merry and bright for the veterans at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tuskegee.
Each year, members of Post 70 and its Auxiliary travel to the VA hospital with Christmas bags for the veterans. On Saturday, they delivered 200 gift bags to the veterans and also took items especially for use in the therapy ward.
The veterans’ gift bags included a variety of items including knit caps, blankets, baseball caps, back brushes and scratchers and lotions and hygiene products.
“Susan Griffith had knitted beautiful knit caps and all of the veterans wanted them,” Hale said. “They are so appreciative of everything and it’s just a joy for us to be able to share Christmas with them.”
As much as the veterans appreciate and enjoy the gift bags, they seem to enjoy having visitors even more, Hale said.
“Cadets from the Pike County High School JROTC have been going with us for about six year and having young people around really brightens the day for the veterans,” Hale said. “This year, the PCHS choral group went along. They went up and down the halls singing Christmas carols. The choral director, Roy Hoobler, played the guitar for them and people came out of the rooms to hear them. It was wonderful experience for these cadets and choral members and the veterans.”
Troy City Council Member Dejerilyn Henderson was xalong to visit with the veterans. She said, also, that being there was an enlightening experience for the students and it was a way for her to give back to a facility that has given so much to her and her family.
“When I heard Post 70 and its Auxiliary were taking Christmas bags to the VA Hospital in Tuskegee, I knew I wanted to go along as a way to reach out to our veterans and to give back to the hospital in some small way,” Henderson said.
Henderson said when her sister was on the battlefield with cancer, they would travel on a van from Tuskegee to Atlanta for her to take treatments.
“Then, when she was hospitalized at the VA facility there, she was treated so wonderfully,” Henderson said. “I wanted to go back and do something in return.”
Henderson had the opportunity to sit with and console a veteran and was able to use the experience as a teachable moment.
“The young people remarked at the difference a caring gesture can make,” Henderson said. “We are all humans and want to be treated like we are important and that our lives matter. That’s what I told the students and I think they understood. Several of the students left the hospital with tears in their eyes. I think they will have a different way of looking at our veterans now and a greater appreciation for them.”
Hale also said the veterans were encouraged and inspired by the visit. Her daughter, Tabitha, who is a licensed attorney, was along with her service dog.
“Dennis Griffith, Post 70, shared Tabitha’s story with the veterans,” Hale said. “He told them that Tabitha was born with her disability but she never let it stop her and that their lives don’t have stop because they are in the hospital – that they can still go forward. They seemed to find his words encouraging.”
Eighteen ladies affiliated with or supportive of Post 70 and its Auxiliary participated in the activities at the VA hospital Saturday.
“We all came away with a deeper appreciation for our veterans and a desire to do more,” Hale said. “We appreciate all of those who support our poppy sale each year and our other fundraisers. They are all a part of what we do for our veterans at Christmastime and throughout the year.”