How to make Thanksgiving special

A smiling woman serves coffee from a cart while Veterans enjoy dinner

All photos: Tom Ullom, Columbus VA

Volunteers serve Vets dinner at Columbus VA Ambulatory
Care Center

Almost 400 Veterans were treated to Thanksgiving Day dinner by the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio, organized by Voluntary Services. The space for the dinner was donated by American Legion Post 144.

“I’ve been around a long time and I feel so grateful to have this wonderful meal with some of the nicest people,” said Korean War Veteran Violet Young. “I live away from my family, but it feels good to be around my Veteran family.”

“It’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves…it makes it all worthwhile.”

“We take care of each other as Veterans,” said Veteran and VA Volunteer Frank Bowlen. “It’s great to see everyone enjoying themselves, sharing stories, and catching up with friends…it makes it all worthwhile.”

“I’m a Korean War Veteran, but I’ve never enrolled in the VA,” said Dolores Skaggs. “My friend, who goes to the VA, brought me here and I see how everyone cares and is so nice, so I’m going to stop by the VA and start taking care of myself.”

A woman visits with a Veteran enjoying his meal

Traci Washington visits with a Veteran <!–Photo: Tom Ullom, Columbus VA–>

Traci Washington, Chief of Voluntary Services at the Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center, above, reflected on the event:

“There is quite a bit of preparation that goes into ensuring our Veterans have an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner…but it never feels like work. The support we receive from our Veterans Service Organizations, the community and our VA staff is unmatched by anything I’ve ever experienced.

“It seems that everyone wants to be involved with ensuring that our Veterans are taken care of! When the doors opened there was a line of grateful Veterans from start to finish. The mood was festive and our Veterans not only received a nice Thanksgiving meal, but they were also able to enjoy holiday music, a variety of desserts and the camaraderie of their fellow Veterans.

“At one point during the event, I sat down in the back of the room and as I looked around was deeply inspired. In one corner of the room a Veteran was feeding a fellow visually impaired Veteran. In another corner, I watched as our Director, Associate Director, Chief of Staff and Nurse Executive worked the serving line. Sprinkled throughout the venue were volunteers in their red uniforms with ‘How can I serve you’ stenciled on the back…assisting Veterans in any way that they could.

“As I watched, I couldn’t help but think…this is truly what it means to ‘Serve those who’ve served.’”

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