Back in November 2019, American Legion Department of Alabama leadership and National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford toured the Birmingham VA Health Care System during the commander’s department visit. Department of Alabama Commander Ron Bradstreet asked VA staff if there was anything they needed for the veterans they care for.
This ask resulted in a nearly $38,000 American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) grant to the Birmingham VA. The two individual grants supported visually impaired veterans in the Blind Rehabilitation Center, as well as homeless and at-risk veterans through the Phoenix Clinic at BVAHCS.
The Birmingham VA received its $26,245 OCW grant in early 2020 to purchase a Helix-Epilog engraving and cutting system for its Blind Rehabilitation Center. The center helps visually impaired veterans make leather and wood-working goods, such as wallets or cabinetry. But due to COVID-19 and the outside visitation restrictions to the hospital, it wasn’t until May 21 that the Department of Alabama was able to meet with VA staff in regard to this grant and to deliver a $11,500 OCW grant of boxes filled with clothing and household items for its Phoenix Clinic.
“We are very grateful to The American Legion and Operation Comfort Warriors for their continued support of our veterans,” said Ladi Kukoyi, acting BVAHCS director. “Organizations such as these not only play an integral part in maintaining the welfare of our nation’s warriors, but they help to promote programs that assist veterans who may be experiencing homelessness and help them achieve their full protentional.”
This is the third OCW grant that Bradstreet has applied for and received – the other was for an art program at an off-campus counseling center for veterans. He encourages district leadership to visit VA nursing homes and facilities to see what needs they may have for their veterans.
The American Legion OCW program “is so good, I can’t believe more people don’t use it,” Bradstreet said. “It’s incredible to give homeless veterans personal care items, to give them clothing. Why wouldn’t you feel good about that?
“It’s like the national commander says, The American Legion needs to brag, we need to tell people what we’re doing.”