2017-2018 National Hospital Ambassador
Five Ways to Connect with Veterans in Nursing Homes/Assisted Living Facilities
January is usually a quiet month; everyone is recovering from all the festivities in December. Some may find it a relief while others may actually feel depressed because of the sudden quiet after all the cheerful noise of Christmas carols, unwrapping gifts, and celebrating the start of a New Year. Many make resolutions and or goals at the start of a new year. I encourage you to make one of your resolutions/goals this year to have regular (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly) contact with veterans living in nursing homes. Some ways to do this are:
- Plan a visit
- Make a phone call
- Send a thinking of you card
- Host a function
- Offer to help submit an entry to Veterans Voices
- Offer to help the veteran put his/her words to paper about a memory, thought, or feeling. When it’s quiet, our thoughts can turn toward things that haunt us. In the Fall 2017 issue of Veterans Voices I read a poem written by a soldier who encountered a “smiling enemy” whom he could not shoot because he was smiling and it was unsettling for him. He did take action as recalled in his poetry giving the reader a clear picture of what he must have felt in that moment and why it’s a memory he’ll never forget. Imagine the relief he may have felt putting those memories and thoughts to paper in hopes of coming to peace through therapy with that unnerving experience. Go to veteransvoices.com for more information on how to introduce the project to a veteran and/or subscribing and supporting it.
February is full of great opportunities to plan something fun for our veterans.
- February 1: National Freedom Day – Plan a trivia “tea” around those who fought for our freedoms and equal rights – our military veterans, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Sons of Liberty! Serve tea and social tea cookies.Prepare multiple choice questions to give the participants a little help with the answers.
- February 2: Groundhog Day – Rent a copy of the movie Groundhog Day and plan a contest among the veterans on whether the groundhog is going to see his shadow or not.
- February 4: Super Bowl Sunday – plan a party with handmade team banners, finger food and a “guess the score” contest. Buy a couple of small footballs at the local dollar store and paint or write the names of the teams on each. Give the veteran with the nearest winning score the winning team football, and the veteran with the worst guess of all, the losing team’s football.
- February 8: Boy Scouts Anniversary – Recruit a local Boy Scout pack or troop to celebrate their birthday at a local nursing home. They can give a little talk on the meaning of their awarded patches for their acts of citizenship.
- February 11 -17: Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week – This is a VA Medical Center week long annual recognition of our hospitalized veterans. You can help by providing volunteers to assist with the activities conducted all that week, provide funding to sponsor refreshments and/or entertainment, or simply getting some members together to spend a little time visiting with the patients to brighten their day. It is always held during the week of Valentines to “show the love” we have for them and the appreciation we have for their sacrifices while serving our country.
Happy New Year! I wish each and every one of you a wonderful 2018.