Volunteers Show Appreciation for Retirement Home Residents
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2001 Nearly 170 volunteer soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and family members recently spent a morning showing their appreciation to residents here at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home.
The adults raked leaves, trimmed trees, assembled bed frames and mattresses and called bingo while children made thank-you cards and a large banner for the aging veterans. The banner read, "A Salute to Our Veterans."
Air Force Lt. Col. Dana Born and six-month-old daughter, Heather, make a thank- you card during a volunteer day at the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home in Washington. "It's a family affair," Born said of the event at the home Nov. 17, 2001. "Our three-year-old, her cousin, my brother- in-law, my husband and baby decided to come out and bring a little joy to the veterans who risked their lives to help protect the freedoms of America." Photo by Rudi Williams.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
It's called the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home, but more than 1,000 men and women veterans of all services, including the Coast Guard, live there. It's nestled in the heart of the nation's capital on 32 secure acres in a park-like setting. With an average age of 76, the veterans come from every state, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
"I grew to love and appreciate the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home and the residents. When the Joint National Family Volunteer Project was announced, it was a must do for me," said Air Force Lt. Col. Dana Born. Her six-month- old daughter, Heather, was in a baby carrier strapped around her neck. "It's a family affair. Our three-year-old, her cousin, my brother-in-law, my husband and baby decided to come out and bring a little joy to the veterans who risked their lives to help protect the freedoms of America."
Born is a member of the Mission Support Squadron Command at nearby Bolling Air Force Base.
Stacey Bernabela, 20, a dental technician at Bolling's 11th Dental Clinic said she volunteered to help veterans at the home "because they've dedicated their lives to getting us to where we are today."
To Tracey Brooks, volunteering at the home was a lesson for her daughters, Mariah, 9, and Myra, 6.
"We decided to come out because we wanted to share our love with someone else and to teach my children that it's better to give than to receive," Brooks said. "We just wanted to give a big hug and thanks to all of those that have served in our armed forces. Our hearts goes out to them today."
Brooks' husband is Air Force Staff Sgt. Otis H. Brooks III who works for the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.
Noting that the Boy Scouts celebrate hometown heroes during November, Scout leader Brian Nickols said he and four Cub Scouts came out to support the veterans and show their appreciation to them. The Cubs, from Den 2 in Pack 987 of Vienna, Va., helped make more than 230 thank-you cards and a large banner.
Marie Cavalcante, 12, said she wanted "to compliment the veterans for the good job they've done for our country." The daughter of Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert Cavalcante, she attends Mattawoman Middle School, Waldorf, Md.
Her sister Jamie, 14, of Westlake High School in Waldorf, said she was "just helping out and fitting in wherever I can in making a difference -- letting them know that they're really special to us."
"This is the Navy family month so we wanted to do an activity that involved our families," adult volunteer Kevin Macey said. "We also wanted to give a little back to the men and women that have defended the nation."
Visit the DoD "Home for Heroes" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/heroes/.