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VA vets receive sweet surprise from volunteers

Times Leader - 2/13/2021

Feb. 13—WILKES-BARRE — Hospitalized veterans at the VA Medical Center were surprised Friday when they received Valentine's Day cards and boxes of snacks from their "community sweethearts."

Representatives of the Shawnee Plymouth VFW Post 1425 delivered the cards and snacks to the veterans a couple days before the week-long celebration of "National Salute to Veteran Patients Week kicks off and runs from Sunday, Feb. 14 through Saturday, Feb. 20.

William Klaips, VAMC Wilkes-Barre's Executive Assistant to the Director/Public Affairs Officer, said the VA National Salute to Veteran Patients is observed annually during the week of Valentine's Day.

"Its purpose is to honor veterans and to increase community awareness of the VA's role in providing comprehensive medical care to the nation's veterans," Klaips said. "And the celebration is aimed to encourage American citizens and community organizations to become more engaged in volunteerism and charitable efforts through VA Voluntary Service."

Terri Palchanis, secretary/treasurer of the Plymouth VFW's Ladies Auxiliary, said she and her husband, VFW Commander Robert Palchanis, and Debi Zagata Antosh, VFW Ladies Auxiliary President/Hospital Representative and her husband, James, delivered the Valentines and snacks Friday afternoon.

"In the past, our Auxiliary has hosted several bingos and participated in summer picnics for the resident veterans at the VA Hospital in Wilkes-Barre," Palchanis said. "In doing so, we have attended and given the patients gifts and canteen books as prizes. The Veterans at the hospital can use the canteen books to purchase items from the store located in the VA Hospital. These were always highlights of our year in being able to intermingle with these patients and residents to exchange stories and giving both them and us some valuable friendships."

However, Palchanis said during the past year with the pandemic, they were not able to go into the hospital.

"As a result, to bring some happiness to these veterans, our Auxiliary Headquarters initiated a 'Valentines for Heroes' program, suggesting VFW Auxiliaries send Valentine cards to the hospital veterans,"Palchanis said. "So, our VFW Auxiliary to Shawnee Plymouth Post 1425 decided to take the program a step further. We hand-signed 95 Valentine cards and put them, along with a Canteen book, into envelopes. In addition, we received a donation of several boxes of snack packs from a friend and we also purchased candies and cookies to donate to the hospital.

"With the Veterans being totally shut-in, we are hoping to bring a little cheer into their lives this Valentine's Day and to let them know we are thinking of them and eternally grateful for their service to our country and to us."

Klaips said the VA Medical Center normally sees a lot of in-person visits and activities for this week — school group singers, ROTC groups, community groups, Casino Day, Veteran Service Organizations, etc.

"Although the COVID restriction has limited our ability to host group functions, we're still able to recognize and celebrate our veterans with alternative activities and events," Klaips said.

Russell E. Lloyd, VA Medical Center Director, said each year, during the national salute, the Department of Veterans Affairs joins with its service organizations, community partners, and volunteers to celebrate America's veterans.

"These are the men and women that we are entrusted to serve," Lloyd said. "It's a privilege to be able to recognize those that have ensured our individual freedoms, the freedoms of our nation, and the freedoms of our allies around the world."

Klaips said the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center has planned a week of activities and distributions for the veterans receiving care at the medical center and community based outpatient clinics. Klaips said groups interested in volunteering or participating can contact Voluntary Services to to help salute America's Heroes by calling 570-821.-7237, or by sending an email at —

Events this week

Sunday, Feb. 14

Medical Center Valentine's Distribution

CLC Pizza Party (Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary)

Monday, Feb. 15

CLC Abe's Hot Dog Day (Sponsored by a generous donor)

Tuesday, Feb. 16

Mardi Gras Donuts or Sweet Treat (Sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution and Nutrition & Food Service)

Medical Center Canteen Book Distribution (Sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center'sBoard of Trustees)

CLC Bingo (Sponsored by the American Legion)

Wednesday, Feb. 17

Medical Center and CBOCs Candy Distribution (Sponsored by The Hershey Company, Hazleton Plant)

SARRTP and Ward 9 Pizza Party (Sponsored by Recreation Therapy)

CLC Auntie Ann's Pretzel Party (Sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary)

Thursday, Feb. 18

Medical Center National Salute Gift Distribution (Sponsored by Voluntary Service)

CLC Bingo (Sponsored by The American Red Cross)

Friday, Feb. 19

Medical Center Cheeriodicals Distribution (Sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center'sBoard of Trustees)



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