Thursday, May 22, 2014

Red Cross Impacting Lives at Tyler, TX Veteran's Home

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region

This month, American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces volunteers spent time at the Watkins Logan State Veteran's Home in Tyler, TX installing wheelchair accessible raised gardening beds for the veterans.

Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) includes linking military families during times of emergency, connecting families with local community resources, providing resiliency training and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals.

Since the partnership began between the veteran's home and the Red Cross in 2012, the Red Cross has been assigned Cottage D which houses ten veterans, two of which are bedridden, one capable of walking and the rest in wheelchairs. 

Service to the Armed Forces volunteer Julie McDaniel has been volunteering since 2012 at the home and has been hoping to provide the veterans with the raised gardening beds for the last several months. 

"The gardening beds will help get the less mobile veterans outside," said Julie. "With the gardening bed being raised, the veterans in wheelchairs can pull right up underneath it. I think this will give them a chance to feel like they have ownership of something." 

Red Cross volunteers Julie and Jim helped assemble the gardening beds
Julie often plans events for the veterans such as holiday and birthday parties, and says that she enjoys cooking for them when she gets a chance. Now Julie will be able to involve the veterans in picking fresh vegetables from the gardening beds. You can read here about Julie's dedication to the veteran's home. 

The raised gardening beds aren't all that the Red Cross has been doing at the veteran's home. Several volunteers dedicate their time to Cottage D, such as Stacy Gore who is head of the Red Cross youth club. The youth club came out to the veteran's home around Easter to hide eggs and enjoy a picnic with the men at the home. They also came during the holiday season to sing carols. 

Roger Middleton, another Red Cross volunteer has been working with one of the veterans on his dream to write and publish a novel. Roger, who is a member of the local writer's club, is helping the veteran get his work typed and saved on a computer, in hopes that the novel will one day be published. 

"We continue to be so thankful for volunteers like these year-round. The joy that these volunteers bring the veterans is such a blessing to see," stated Jennifer Cato, Services to the Armed Forces and International Services Field Specialist. "Volunteers make up more than 90 percent of the Red Cross and they're the reason we can work toward our mission."

Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, the second largest population in the country. This week, between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, the Red Cross invites you to help us continue to provide vital services to thousands of military service members, veterans and their families each year, keeping military families connected during emergencies, connecting families with local resources and supporting wounded warriors and military hospitals. Join us in #HonoringHeroes. Visit for more information.


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