January 11, 1998 in Features

Show Vets Your Appreciation

Ann Landers Creators Syndicate

Dear Ann Landers: For years, your readers have opened their hearts to America’s hospitalized veterans by sending cards and letters to the 173 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers across the country through your Ann Landers-Valentine Vet program. As acting secretary of veterans affairs, it is a privilege for me to participate in this worthwhile program, which relies so much on the generosity of your caring readers.

All of us are well aware of the joy your efforts bring to our veterans. Last year, hundreds of thousands of cards and letters from all over the world were received by the men and women hospitalized in VA facilities. Teachers took advantage of the program by telling students about veterans and what they have done for our country.

Cards came in every shape and size and were made with stickers, colored doilies, crayons and markers. All of these handcrafted cards were created with love and respect for our nation’s veterans. One card, with red hearts, candy stripes and sparkles, was created by an Ohio fifth-grader. It read, “This is a special card I made for you. Whenever you are lonely or blue, look at this and know that I think of you.”

Our annual National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans is just around the corner - the week of Feb. 8-14. We hope your readers will again take time to let our veterans know that they are appreciated and not forgotten. It is an honor and privilege to serve those who have given so much to this nation.

I look forward to another successful year of this special program, and I know our veterans do, too. Sincerely - Togo D. West Jr., acting secretary, Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Dear Togo West: I’ve always known that my readers are the most warmhearted, responsive people in the world. When I ask them to do something, they come through like champions.

Readers, it’s time once again to let our veterans know we appreciate them. It won’t cost much, and it’s sure to bring enormous pleasure to our vets, to whom we owe so much.

On any given day, there are approximately 50,000 veterans hospitalized in VA medical centers nationwide. These men and women served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the war in the Persian Gulf. They represent every race, color and creed. We can never repay these valiant vets for the sacrifices they have made, but we can do something to cheer them up and let them know that they have not been forgotten.

Last year, over 21,000 Salvation Army volunteers distributed valentines, gifts and refreshments to various VA facilities around the country. Camp Fire Boys and Girls have been giving valentines to our veterans for quite some time. God bless them.

Teachers, you have always been extremely helpful and supportive. I’m depending on you once more to make this a class project. Handmade valentines are real heartwarmers, especially the ones made by the younger students.

The veterans would be thrilled if you could drop off your valentines in person, or you can mail them to your local VA hospital. If you don’t know where your local VA hospital is, check your telephone directory or call the VA toll-free number at (800)-827-1000 for the address of the nearest VA facility. You can also search for addresses at VA’s web site - www.va.gov

I know of nothing you can do that would cost so little and bring so much happiness to the men and women who were willing to lay down their lives for us. They deserve to be remembered. Thank you all and God bless. - Ann Landers

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