By Gina Martinez
To celebrate Veterans Day, a Whitestone nursing home hosted a “Veterans Helping Veterans” event Wednesday, sending care packages and letters of encouragement to active service members.
Veterans and widows of veterans gathered in The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Queens, located at 157-15 19th Ave. to celebrate and honor servicemen and women.
Former members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard helped assemble care packages with essential self-care items, such as lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and antibacterial hand wipes for soldiers currently in the field.
There was also a table set up where senior vets could write words of encouragement and wisdom to active service members.
Chloe Hodgson, director of recreation at The Grand, said the event was very exciting for residents of the home and that they looked forward to giving back to the men and women who currently serve.
“Studies show that one of the most effective forms of assistance for former military members is vets helping vets,” she said. “That’s because being in the military creates a sense of camaraderie between service members that continues for decades after the military service is complete. Veterans are extremely motivated to help fellow services members because of the special bond they share.”
State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) stopped by and presented veterans with certificates and thanked them for finding a way to cheer up service members.
“We just recently celebrated Veterans Day and I know that personally I feel so lucky because if it wasn’t for the veterans and the veterans families as well who sacrifice their peace of mind in order to serve, we wouldn’t have all the benefits that we enjoy in the United States.”
One of the vets at the event was 80-year-old Douglas McGetrick, who grew up in Jackson Heights. He said he thought the event was a great way to keep veterans connected and he looks forward to Veterans Day every year after his positive experience in the Army.
“It’s such an important day to think about all the men and women who serve and also those who lost their lives serving their country,” he said. “It’s very moving to have an event like this. Hopefully, younger service members have the same feeling of pride that we had back then. Serving saved my life. I could of gone any way. I was glad that I did it because it gave my life direction and it was a meaningful experience.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart