USA: Sailors Volunteer at Washington Veterans Home

Sailors Volunteer at Washington Veterans Home

More than 40 chief petty officers (CPO) and CPO selects, assigned to commands within Navy Region Northwest, participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at Washington Veterans Home, Aug. 9.

The CPO selects, Sailors undergoing an induction process to CPO, assisted the grounds crew of the veterans home with brush clean-up of the campus, tree trimming and weed pulling.

“Our ultimate goal is not only to make this thing pretty, but to give back and appreciate our veterans,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS/FMF) Robert Ripps, stationed at Naval Submarine Support Center on Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor.

During the clean up the CPO selects also interacted with the veterans living on the campus sharing stories of their time currently serving and listening to the stories from those who preceded them.

“Some of the selects broke off and engaged some of the veterans here that reside in the facility and they appreciate not only us here helping maintain their home, but to listen and appreciate them and what they sacrificed for us and our nation,” said Ripps. “A lot of times all people want sometimes is to be appreciated and someone to listen to them.”

Washington Veterans Home is on a 31-acre campus with a state-of-the-art facility serving more than 240 veterans needing both long-term nursing and assisted-living care.

Don Veverka, superintendent administrator for the Washington Veterans Home, said that due to a limited budget the home can only allocate two people to manage the grounds for the entire campus, so they rely heavily on volunteers especially current active duty service members.

The help that we receive is a tremendous value to us, it allows us to keep the grounds looking, much better than they would otherwise,” said Veverka. “We rely on them very heavily to come and provide those extra hands and assistance in keeping the place looking better than it would otherwise. We respect and appreciate their contribution immensely.”

Veverka said the veterans love it when current active duty personnel take the time to visit. He described the service members here in the Pacific Northwest as being generous and very supportive of the veterans.

They come in and meet with our residents, they’ll call bingo, they’ll engage in activities and involve with them, getting to know our residents,” said Veverka. “What is better then to have service veterans connected with active duty service personnel? They love it and look forward to it and are always eager to share their stories and their experiences, which really is very valuable to those that are engaged in the current active duty as well.”

Being able to have this opportunity to connect with the past had a big meaning for some of current active duty Sailors who participated in the COMREL.

“It’s amazing to me that they’re here and we’re here and they are from times before ours,” said Chief (select) Logistics Specialist (SS) Bernard Drayton, assigned to Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at NBK Bangor. “One day we’ll be here and I’ll come out and watch the young guys do it and be proud that they are following from were I came from.”

Ripps said that COMREL projects like this are very effective and important for the Navy by building a bond and uniting the Sailors with the surrounding community.

Even though our jobs all too often carry us away from our communities and our families, an event like this gives us a chance to come back and plant roots,” said Ripps. “We’re not just the travelers in the night that come and go every couple of years, we show that we care and we’re willing to do what we need to do to help out our community.”

Naval Today Staff, August 13, 2012; Image: US Navy