The American Legion helped veterans in the domiciliary rehabilitation and treatment program at the Alaska VA Healthcare System in Anchorage give their family members a special Christmas. A first-time $8,000 Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) grant helped purchase presents for the domiciliary gift shop, which is sponsored by the Department of Alaska Auxiliary.
This is the ninth year for the gift shop.
“I cannot thank The American Legion enough,” said Peggy Bateman, Alaska VA medical support assistant, gift shop chairman and member of Aurora Borealis Post 21 and Jack Henry Unit 1. “Donations (for the gift shop) were down this year so it’s nice to know OCW is there to help out if needed.”
Around the first of November, veterans in the domiciliary program are given a form to fill out on one gift they would like to have for each of their immediate family members (spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren). There is not a limit on how many names they can shop for as long as it’s immediate family. The veterans turn the form in before Thanksgiving and Bateman shops for the items, which must be within the $25 price range.
The gift shop is held on the first Saturday in December in the domiciliary atrium, and this year 80 veterans shopped for their families.
“It’s a day about them,” Bateman said. “We want to make sure even though they are at the domiciliary, they still can give to their family and feel good about it.”
Each veteran is matched with a Legion Family volunteer or VA employee to help them shop. They pick out gifts, wrap the items, select a Christmas card and prepare the presents for shipping. This year gifts included toys, stuffed animals, games, household kitchen items, jewelry and Star Wars night lights.
During the event, veterans enjoy fruit and cheese trays, cookies and breads baked by Legion Family members, hot chocolate, apple cider and tea.
“With all of the veterans that came through, we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without the OCW grant,” Bateman said. “We owe The American Legion tremendously for helping us out this year. I am so grateful that they came through.”