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January/February 2024 -   -  


Scores of VVA chapters across the country took part in the 2023 National Wreaths Across America Day on Saturday, December 14, decorating veterans’ graves at more than 4,000 cemeteries and memorials in all 50 states. Chapters also served their communities in many other ways during the November-December holiday season.

Lynnwood, Washington, Sno-King Chapter 423, for example, worked with Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington to run their 5th annual Thanksgiving dinner pick-up and delivery operation in November and December. Chapter members took full Thanksgiving meals from Chef Dane Catering and delivered them to veterans at Sebastian Place, a new 20-unit residence for chronically homeless veterans. The day before Christmas, chapter members also delivered 15 holiday dinners to the Sebastian Place residents.

In addition to taking part in a December 16 Wreaths Across America event at the Gates Town Hall, members of Rochester, New York, Chapter 20, including the chapter Honor Guard, participated in Pearl Harbor Day events at the Rochester Yacht Club and marched in the first-ever Monroe County Veterans Day parade on November 12. The parade concluded at the Greater Rochester Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Gary Beikirch Memorial Park.

Chapter 242
Chicago Chapter 242 paid a holiday season visit to the Hines VA Long-Term Care facility to donate $4,450 and gifts. (Courtesy Chapter 242)

Charleston, West Virginia, Chapter 37 members Joe Norris, Art Castro, Walt Carr, Mike Rice, Jill Rice, and Dewey Chaney paid a visit in late December to the West Virginia Veterans Home in Barboursville. And, in conjunction with two other local VSOs, the chapter also presented a check to Charleston’s Manna Meal, a nonprofit soup kitchen that serves hot breakfasts and lunch every day of the year to anyone in need.

Tri-River Chapter 840 in Halifax County, Virginia, saw members James Dixon, Bradley Hudson, and Thomas Coleman deliver holiday presents on behalf of the chapter in December to the Berry Hill Health and Rehab Center and Commonwealth Senior Living in South Boston, Va.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, Chapter 203 held its annual Christmas dinner for Vietnam War veterans and their families on December 9 at Ridgedale Baptist Church. Santa and Mrs. Claus made an appearance at the event, handing out gifts to young people who were among the crowd of 250 at the dinner. The chapter Honor Guard got special commemorative coins honoring chapter member Larry Taylor, who received the Medal of Honor last September for his extraordinary courage under fire in the Vietnam War. Local radio show morning host Ted Gocke provided the entertainment.

Queens, New York, Chapter 32, and Manhattan, N.Y., Angel Almedina Memorial Chapter 126 joined other local VSOs supporting New York City Council member Robert Holden’s annual winter coat drive for homeless veterans. Holden, New York City Veterans Commissioner James Hendon, Chapter 32 President Lennie Williams, and Chapter 126 President Mike Moreno delivered 75 coats to veterans living in a homeless facility in Long Island City on December 21. “It’s a small gesture to those who bravely served our country, ensuring they stay warm this winter,” Holden said.

Chapter 907
Gardner, Mass., Mayor Michael Nicholson, Gardner Veteran's Agent Lynnette Gabrila, Mount Wachusett Community College President James Vander Hooven, MWCC Veterans Services Director Bob Mayer, VVA Massachusetts SC Vice President Jim Benton, North Central Massachusetts Chapter 907 Vice President Charles Hodgkinson and Treasurer Michael Zlotnik at the presentation of the chapter's annual scholarship contribution for MWCC veteran students. (Courtesy Mount Wachusett Community College)


Staten Island, New York, Chapter 421 member Frank Russo was inducted into the New York Veterans Hall of Fame in November by State Sen. Andrew J. Lanza. A member of the chapter since 2010, Russo is a member of the Honor Guard and Color Guard and serves as chapter secretary and website administrator. Senator Lanza added that Russo has also “coordinated over 60 visits to Walter Reed Medical Center, visiting and distributing comfort items to injured veterans,” and “coordinates the annual Staten Island Welcomes Our Heroes event, where selected injured veterans from Walter Reed are escorted by police and bikers from the Center all the way to Staten Island.”

Four members of Chicago Chapter 242—John Andres, Carlos Saladino, Robert Morrison, and Roger McGill—recently replaced a worn-out American flag outside the Dunkin’ Donuts in Niles, Illinois, where the chapter holds weekly Tuesday coffee and camaraderie gatherings for all veterans.

Early in November, six members of Northern Utah Chapter 1079 received a special award honoring their veterans advocacy from the three-member Weber County Commission at their chambers in Ogden. The award—a Thank You card from the commissioners, along with a special challenge coin—went to chapter President Ken Bissenden, VVA Board Member Dennis Howland, Vyron Dowdle, Mike Parnell, Terry Picket, and Ralph Ramos.

Ken Rubin, a member of The Villages, Florida, Chapter 1036, was honored at a November 7 ceremony commemorating both his Vietnam War service as an Army helicopter pilot as well as his veterans’ advocacy. Rubin received Letters of Commendation from U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Chapter 41
Central New Hampshire Chapter 41 delivered a $500 check and several bags of toys to the Toys for Tots program sponsored by the N.H. State Police and the local Marine Corps League Detachment on December 6 in the State Police hangar at the Concord, N.H., airport in front of a State Police Bell Jet Ranger helicopter. The four Chapter 41 members are President Ray Goulet, Vice President Wayne Nelson, Jean Gosselin, and Larry Maurice. (Courtesy Amber LaGace/NH State Police)

Elmira, New York, Chapter 803 recently donated $1,000 to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for Elmira’s Arnot Ogden Medical Center. The donation will help underwrite new equipment in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The chapter decided to donate the money on behalf of the late Bruce Newkirk. “He was a proponent of the Children’s Miracle Network,” chapter President Larry Sherman said. “His grandson spent almost six months in the NICU here. Since he was such a proponent, someone gave us a thousand dollars in his memory, so, we turned that right over to the Children’s Miracle Network. They support us. It’s the least we can do to give back.”

South Denver Metro Chapter 1106 covered travel costs for chapter member Patti Ehline to travel to Washington, D.C., in November to attend the events commemorating the 30th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Ehline served as an emergency room nurse at the 312th Evac Hospital in Chu Lai during her Vietnam War tour of duty.

During Veterans Day ceremonies in Las Vegas last November, VVA member Rick Kaufmann, who administers the websites for Sierra Nevada Chapter 889 in Reno and Henderson Chapter 1076, was honored as the state’s Veteran of the Month. On December 7, Chapter 1076 members, led by President Neil Johnson, participated in burial services for seven Navy veterans whose bodies had been unclaimed during a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. Following a flag ceremony by active-duty Navy personnel, the flag was presented to chapter member and U.S. Navy veteran David Smith.




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