Santa's helpers (in the person of Jewish War Veteran volunteers) bring goodwill to lonely patients at V.A. hospitals on Christmas morning

Calif Cmdr Greg Lee had Rick Rogers portray Eddie Cantor
entertaining the VA patients on Christmas morning, 2014.
The halls of the Veterans Administration Hospital on Christmas morning were bereft of all but essential employees. There were no gifts for the patients under any Christmas trees. Most of the patients have no visitors Christmas morning, if at all that day. It's a lonely time for an adult patient to be in those hospitals. 

That's why dispositions rose when volunteers of several faiths visited patient floors for the 72nd annual "Gift for a Yank" activity- through the efforts of the Jewish War Veterans. This event, started by Hollywood star, Eddie Cantor, post-WWII in 1946, now extends to San Diego, and Long Beach (most years) according to JWV California Commander Greg Lee. JWV posts around the country have extended
Christmas morning visits to their hospitalized comrades-in-arms. 

Six years ago, Richard Chaves, a Viet Nam combat-veteran
Hy Arnesty (age 95), USAF Chaplain Dov Cohen, Miliken 
High School students volunteers Eliya Makabeh and 
Sam Steinsapir, and former Cmdr Otis Flake
(1971-'72) and acclaimed stage and screen actor, found his V.A. Hospital stay would extend beyond Christmas Day. Admitted for months, Chaves felt alone, not expecting any visitors that day.

V.A. volunteer and sponsor, Beth Pierik, actor Richard Chaves, and
actress Jamie Anderson volunteer with JWV Christmas Gifting
Chaplain Dov Cohen and Cmdr. Matt Millen instruct the volunteers which
Hefty Bags of gift bags to bring to which Wards of the L.A. V.A. Hospital
"They (this hospital) saved my life six years ago to this day I was upstairs on the fifth floor and Matt (Millen) came in and gave me a box full of  this wonderful stuff - toilet articles and puzzles. And then Santa Claus walked through the door! I'm not Jewish but I have a lot of Jewish friends and been involved in, I have known Matt for the last six years ever since he walked in the door upstairs and I was lying there with I.V.'s in my arm, tears coming down my cheek because that was such an emotional moment for me here on Christmas alone- I was here by myself. I'm just so happy to be here today and be with the guys."

Led by Mathew Millen, Commander of the Santa Monica JWV Post #118, JWV members and participants explain their what, why and wherefore in preparing and delivering respect to the patients and infirm veteran residents around the L.A. VA hospital campus. 

Cmdr Matt Millen elaborated: "Between the (Calif.) State Veterans Home, New Directions (rehabilitation) for Veterans, The Domiciliary, the two nursing homes, and the Hospital, comes to 1,100 bags (we're distributing)." 

Cmdr. Matt Millen shows the gift bag contents, much of which
is contributed by the American Legion and Operation Gratitude
What's inside the bags? Cmdr Millen shows us, "We have a (stars and stripes baseball) cap, a scarf, a pair of socks, a dental health kit, a personal hygiene / shaving kit, and a Merry Christmas / Season's greetings from the Jewish War Veterans greeting card."

In 2014, we accompanied the JWV "Gift a Yank" Christmas morning at Veterans Admin Hospital who hosted a show by vaudeville act, Evans and Rogers, whose Rick Rogers performed a tribute act of Eddie Cantor. He and California  Commander Greg Lee described the event and experience.

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