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VA Salutes Volunteers' Spreading Holiday Cheer

"Gift of Time" a Valuable Present: Peake

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The new Secretary of Veterans Affairs has applauded the volunteers who remember our nation's veterans, especially those hospitalized in VA facilities, during the holiday season and throughout the year.

"Some of our patients will be unable to be with their families during the holidays," said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "The good cheer and spirit of compassion during the season are a powerful tonic, both for givers and recipients."

The medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA work with veterans groups, corporations and individual businesses, civic organizations and charities to organize a host of holiday programs for patients.

Planned holiday activities include musical shows and caroling, gift-giving, food, recreational activities, traditional observances and visits from Santa Claus.

In some communities, school children and volunteers decorate wards and serve traditional holiday goodies. One unique program run through the American Legion Auxiliary in various parts of the country provides a service that enables veterans to obtain gifts and send them to their family members and friends.

Peake applauded the people across the country who brighten the holidays for hospitalized veterans. At the VA Medical Center in San Francisco, about 25 volunteers from Price Waterhouse Coopers stuffed 250 stockings for patients there and then delivered them to the veterans' at their bedside.

The VA Medical Center in Milwaukee featured a holiday ball and dinner on separate nights for the veterans. Patients at the nursing home units at the Medical Center in Houston were visited by members of the Houston Rockets professional basketball team. Baseball's Boston Red Sox are lending their World Series Trophy to the VA hospital in Bedford, Mass., for a holiday display.

"Let's make every day a holiday for our veterans," Peake said. "The gift of time is one of the most valued gifts we can give, now and throughout the year."

VA operates the nation's largest integrated health care system, with 153 hospitals, more than 130 nursing homes and 45 domiciliaries. The VA's volunteer service has more than 86,000 active volunteers who contributed nearly 12 million hours of service last year - the equivalent of 5,574 fulltime employees.

Anyone interested in becoming a VA volunteer or assisting in other ways should contact the nearest VA medical center. Potential volunteers can also call VA's toll-free number at 1-800-827-1000 or visit the Web site at and clicking "Volunteer Now."

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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