Holiday Surprise For Patients At The VA Hospital
GAINESVILLE - While thousands gathered at Pearl Harbor today to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack that launched the US into World War II. Here in North Central Florida all kinds of veterans in the hospital are being recognized for their contributions this holiday season.
While some patients at the VA hospital come and go, others are there to stay. For some of these heroes, this will be the only Christmas they will have and for a few others this will be their last. One local organization is trying its best to introduce some holiday cheer to the men and women who have selflessly put their lives at risk in the line of duty.
Big black boots and a red suit made their way through the halls of the Malcom Randall Veteran Affairs Medical Center. Each patient at the VA received a surprise visit, by none other than jolly old St. Nick.
Ray Davis with the Masonic Service Association, said, "It is the largest event of its kind in the whole world and it only addresses the veterans."
For fourteen years the Masonic Service Association has been spreading holiday spirit to vets by providing them a little company and some merry tunes. Each patient at the veteran affairs hospital is getting a gift. That means more than 200 presents are being handed out.
Bob Harris a Gainesville representative for the Masonic Service Association, said, "When we see veterans here without legs or arms or sight and hardly able to get around... I am telling you they've devoted their life so that we might have ours. This is a friendship."
One veteran battling pancreatic cancer can’t help but feel touched by the unexpected visit. "Well I think it's great, I think it's great that you are all doing it. And it probably cheers a lot of people including me."
While he's grateful for his past, he’s also weary of his future. However this surprise has brought a smile to his face, a smile that makes it all worthwhile. "The veterans, those in the military are responsible for giving us this great nation. Without them we would not have this great nation. Therefore I always stop and thank a veteran whenever I see them," Davis said.
Waltz hopes for positive results from his latest medical evaluations this season. Christmas for the veterans is expected to happen again next year, on the first Saturday of December.
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