Many ways to thank veterans
Dear Annie: Many anniversaries and observances will occur this year that are important to our veterans: Memorial Day and Veterans Day are the best-known ones. Another occasion I look forward to each year is the Valentines for Vets program during National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week (Feb. 11-17).
The week encourages Americans from all walks of life to deliver valentines to local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers and visit the veterans there.
School teachers use this week to educate our young people about the importance of honoring veterans, especially hospitalized veterans. Community groups, veterans service organizations, professional athletes and others realize the importance of a personal touch, a heartfelt "thank you" and small acts of compassion in the lives of veterans who are patients at VA facilities. Volunteering at VA's hospitals is one way to participate.
Over the years, Annie, your generous support and the backing of your readers have helped this program generate more than 10 million cards and letters for hospitalized veterans and tens of thousands of visits from community members. Hundreds of people step forward each year to join the ranks of VA's volunteers.
Each card and letter is a message of caring for our hospitalized veterans and a sign of respect for their contributions to our country. But what really brightens a hospitalized veteran's day is a visit from someone who wants to spend a few moments to personally thank them for their military service.
There are numerous opportunities to become a volunteer and thousands of reasons to say "yes" to this important week. No special skills are necessary, just the willingness to help those who have served our country.
Becoming a volunteer is easy -- just visit the VA hospital near you. The addresses of our facilities can be obtained by looking in the telephone directory under Department of Veterans Affairs, by calling our toll-free number at (800) 827-1000, or by checking our Web site at www.va.gov and clicking on "Health Care."
Valentines for Vets and your readers, Annie, have formed a unique alliance that has brightened the lives of our veterans for many years. Thank you for all that you do for veterans. I look forward to continuing our partnership this year and long into the future. Jim Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.
Dear Secretary Nicholson: Thank you for allowing us to be part of this heartwarming project. 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.
Readers, please send valentines to our veterans at VA hospitals, or better yet, drop by for a visit. Teachers, you have always been wonderfully supportive in making this a class project, especially with those adorable handmade valentines. Every year, members of Camp Fire USA participate in this program, and Salvation Army volunteers distribute valentines, gifts and refreshments to various VA facilities around the country. Marcy and Kathy
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