Georgia post provides surprise cookout for VA clinic

Georgia post provides surprise cookout for VA clinic

Members of American Legion Post 112 in Dalton, Ga., recently took time out of their day to make things a little brighter for staff and patients at a nearby U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility.

In mid-October, a group of 15 or so Legion Family members from Post 112 made the 25-mile drive to the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Outpatient Clinic. Once there, the group set up grills and provide to cook and serve the staff and patients grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.

The Chattanooga VA clinic provides outpatient clinic primary care and specialty health services, including mental health care, dental care, telehealth, audiology and speech. Its patients come from multiple states, including some from Post 112.

“As The American Legion, we’re here to help veterans,” Post 112 Commander Jim Lovain said. “We thought that Chattanooga was not the far from us, and that we could go up there and cook for the entire staff, as well as patients coming in.”

Lovain reached out to Joshua Green, the Volunteer Services Coordinator at the clinic, to let him know what the post wanted to do. The post owns a mobile grill that was taken to the clinic on the day of the cookout, while some post members brought their own grills.

Lovain said the Post 112 contingent arrived at the clinic between 8:30 and 9 a.m. “We had people coming out at around 10 a.m., and we had to tell them, ‘Give us just a few more minutes and we’ll have it ready.’”

The clinic provided tents and tables for Post 112 to use while it cooked and served the food. The Legion Family members set up an assembly line to provide quick service to the staff and patients. By the time the last meal was served, more than 260 staff members and patients had been fed.

Members of Quilts of Valor were at the clinic that day to present quilts, and Lovain said when they saw what Post 112 was doing, they volunteered to help. And another veteran at the clinic played live music during the cookout.

“When we first started putting this together, we thought it wasn’t a big deal. But when you put things into action, it is a big deal,” Lovain said. “It was a lot of work, but we really enjoyed it. Everybody said, “Oh, we thank you so much.’ To the people up at the clinic, it was special. It was really special, and they just thoroughly enjoyed it.”