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KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Take the opportunity to remind veterans they're not forgotten



Published: Sat, January 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Dear Annie: Year after year, your generous readers open their hearts to America's hospitalized veterans by participating in the Valentines for Vets program. This program encourages readers to deliver valentines to their nearest Department of Veteran's Affairs hospital and, in years past, it has resulted in millions of cards and letters for America's veterans. Last year, caring community members made more than 100,000 veteran patient visits, and hundreds more chose to become volunteers at one of our VA hospitals or outpatient clinics.

This success would not be possible without your support and that of your faithful and thoughtful readers. Teachers in schools, churches, scouting groups and social organizations have used this program to bring their students closer to those veterans who have served our country so valiantly, and gave them a greater understanding of our nation's history. In some areas, the students delivered their valentines in person.

What your readers provide with their caring notes and well wishes can have more power to give these veterans hope than any treatment or pill ever prescribed. At VA, your readers will also find, through volunteering, many opportunities to pay tribute to our nation's veterans. No special skills are necessary, just a willingness to give the gift of their time and caring to our veterans.

The 2005 National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans is just around the corner, Feb. 13-19. We hope your readers will again let our veterans know that they are appreciated and not forgotten. I encourage your readers to visit these veterans and thank them in person. The addresses of our facilities can be obtained by looking in the telephone directory, by calling our toll-free number at (800) 827-1000 or by checking our Web site at www.va.gov/volunteer.

We look forward to another successful year of Valentines for Vets, and I know our veterans do as well. Sincerely, Montel Williams, 2005 Chairman, National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Program

Dear Montel Williams: Thank you for once again giving us the opportunity to continue this worthwhile project, and one that means a great deal to us. We can never repay these courageous veterans for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf, but we can take the time to cheer them up and let them know they have not been forgotten.

Every year, members of Camp Fire USA deliver valentines to our veterans, and Salvation Army volunteers distribute valentines, gifts and refreshments to various VA facilities around the country. Teachers, you have always been extremely helpful and supportive in making this a class project, especially with those wonderful handmade valentines. Our veterans are particularly gratified to know that today's young students recognize and appreciate them. We hope you will encourage your students to be creative and let them learn firsthand the satisfaction that comes from doing something for others.

Readers, the veterans would be thrilled if you could drop off your valentines in person and visit for a few minutes. If you do not live close enough to a VA facility to stop by, you can mail your valentines. To find the location of the nearest VA hospital, you can check your phone book, access the VA Web site facility locator at www.va.gov/directory, or call the toll-free number at (800) 827-1000. We know of nothing else that costs so little and brings so much happiness. Please remember our veterans this Valentine's Day. Bless you. Marcy and Kathy

Creators Syndicate




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