2017-2018 National Hospital Ambassador
Celebrate Fall with Hospitalized Veterans
There are several days in October and November that offer opportunities for you to host or participate in a special event for – and with – hospitalized veterans.
Christopher Columbus sailed to America on October 12, 1492. A great way to celebrate the discovery is to hold a brunch in his honor. He was of Italian descent and so, the theme of the brunch can be “Italian American Traditions.” It can include any or all of the following food found on the VFW Auxiliary Pinterest pages:
- Italian music by none other than the king of Italian songs, Dean Martin, found on YouTube – Dean Martin, Songs of Italian Style (30 songs)
Decorate: Save up your cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, rinse them out, fill them with some greenery and wildflowers for table centerpieces.
Dress up: Dig out those black leggings or a pair of black slacks, a black and white shirt, a red kerchief to tie around your neck, a red sash (scarf) to tie around your waist, and a stick on mustache you can buy at a Dollar tree and you’re ready to sing “Volare” along with Dean!
A Day to Change Direction
Let’s keep the momentum going this year in getting the word out on the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering to help prevent suicide among our military and veterans. On Saturday, October 28, 2017, the VFW and its Auxiliary, The Campaign to Change Direction and Give an Hour are teaming up for the Second Annual “A Day to Change Direction,” a national day of service and action to change the dialogue on mental health for America’s veterans and American communities. Learn the steps for your Auxiliary to participate in “A Day to Change Direction” here: http://www.changedirection.org/vfw-service-project.
Please note, National is not accepting donations for this special project. The purpose of the program is to hold a mental health awareness event to educate the families, friends, classmates, co-workers and neighbors of our veterans and active-duty military members of the need to recognize the five signs of emotional distress – hopelessness, personality change, withdrawal, poor hygiene and agitation.
Halloween is a fun and easy holiday to plan for. Get your costume on and visit veterans at hospitals and nursing homes. Their faces will light up with delight when they see you in costume!
- Check with the activity director to see if they are planning on children coming in to trick-or-treat. Most times the children of employees participate. You can take to the veterans some goodies to give to the children when they come for treats in their adorable costumes.
- Stop by a discount retailer and pick up a small plastic pumpkin and place a battery operated candle inside to decorate the veteran’s room for the occasion.
- If you’re feeling super festive and creative, you can even decorate their door! Check out Halloween door decorations on the VFW Auxiliary’s Pinterest page.
Veterans Day falls on a Saturday this year. Check with your local VA facility and/or nursing home to find out if they will be hosting a recognition event. Here are a couple of suggestions to suggest to the Auxiliaries in your Department:
- Call the Voluntary Service Chief at your nearest VA Medical Center and offer to participate in their program with Auxiliary volunteers to help set-up, escort patients and community living center residents to the event area, serve food if included in the function, and help to sponsor the needs for the event whether monetarily or in-kind.
- Call your local nursing homes and speak with the Activity Directors to find out if veterans reside in their homes. If so, are they planning to recognize the military service of those veterans on or about Veterans Day? If so, offer to help with it. If not, offer to hold one. Always discuss the possibilities with the appropriate staff member. Inevitably there will be restrictions and considerations you’ll need to be aware of before making any plans.
- Last month I suggested a “Branch Birthday Party.” You can use that same material to play a game with the veterans on their special day. If there are only a few veterans in the facility, put your questions on flash cards and involve everyone.
- Don’t forget non-veterans in the local nursing homes. They may not be veterans, but could very well be the family member of a veteran. Let’s be sure to give them the opportunity to honor or remember their veteran, too.