Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks

 

Warming the Hearts of Veterans

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A Veteran listens as students present the information they gathered.

Veteran John Hansen Jr. listens as students present the information they gathered during the “Warming the Hearts of Veterans” event.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This February VHSO was pleased to participate in the sixth annual “Warming the Hearts of Veterans” local event.  We would like to thank everyone who participated, and especially our Veteran speakers who joined us at Woodland Junior High. This event was an overwhelming success and would not have been possible without their presence!

“Warming the Hearts of Veterans” started six years ago at Vandergriff Elementary School in Fayetteville, AR. The fourth grade teachers there wanted to know what they could do for our Veterans for Valentine’s Day and how they could teach their students about patriotism. VHSO partnered with the American Legion to bring the students to our facility, present them with Veterans and their stories, and to answer their questions about being a Veteran and serving our country. The students and teachers wanted to give back to the Veterans of our community and decided to make lap robes for the Veterans. They joined together to make these blankets that were then presented to the VHSO to be distributed to our Veterans. Think about it, what better way to warm someone’s heart at Valentines’ Day than with the gift of a handmade lap robe… thus, a tradition named “Warming the Hearts of Veterans” was born.

Since then the program has moved to Woodland Junior High school for the past two years. This year was a huge success. Some changes have been made since our first “Warming the Hearts of Veterans” event, in that the Veterans now go to the students at their school. While there, the students ask questions to the Veterans that they came up with before the event. Then, after their questions have been answered the children introduce their Veteran to the class and present them with a lap robe. The participating Veterans that join are VHSO Volunteers and members of local Veterans service organizations such as the American Legion. It is a great opportunity for teachers to engage their students in a lesson on Veterans and patriotism. It is also a wonderful experience for our Veterans who get to share their vast knowledge and stories. This year we had 13 Veterans and a class of around 15 students involved; and everyone had a great time.

Voluntary Service plans to continue to with this event as part of our annual National Salute to Veteran Patients and Valentine’s Day activities. We have had wonderful success with partnering with the American Legion and the local schools to help our Veterans share their story and allow students to hear firsthand what patriotism is all about! For more information on next year’s “Warming the Hearts of Veterans,” or to be involved as a volunteer at VHSO, please contact Carol Kick at Carol.Kick@va.gov.