Vietnam Veterans of America Inc. recently approved its own National Eagle Scout Medal for those who earned the Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Badge. VVA Chapters can now assign them to new Eagle Scouts.
Brett Myers was recently awarded the medal at a VVA Chapter 154 meeting for the restoration of names on the brick pavers of the Veterans Memorial near Eastpointe City Hall.
“Brett contacted chapter president Gary Purcell about a project to earn his Eagle Scout badge and was given the tedious task of filling in the lettering on the bricks,” the second vice president said. of the section, Tom Puruleski.
“The VVA National Board of Directors has approved the new National Eagle Scout Medal to be awarded to a Scout who has achieved the highest possible rank in the Boy Scouts of America, in honor of veterans of the Vietnam of America. The medal is accompanied by a letter from the President of the VVA and a certificate to be presented at the Eagle Court of Honour,” he said. “By the way, Brett is a member of Scout Troop 154 in Sterling Heights.
“Brett donated money to Chapter 154 that he did not spend on his fundraising efforts for the project. Impressed with Brett’s integrity, the chapter board decided to donate this money to Brett’s troupe,” he said.
The meeting was held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Station 1146 in St. Clair Shores.
“The event was something of an awards banquet, as it was the same evening that Mission BBQ was serving a delicious meal to members of our chapter,” Puruleski said. “We congratulate him on his latest achievement. Chapter 154 is grateful for his work and wishes him the best in his future endeavours.
The VVA National Medal says “Exitus Acta Probat”, Latin for “The result justifies the act” taken from the George Washington family coat of arms.
Collecting toys for the children of veterans
Vets prepare for the chapter’s annual Operation Christmas, which delivers food and toys to hundreds of veterans and military family members for the holidays.
The Operation Christmas Project begins with a dinner dance at 6:30 p.m. on December 3 at the Fern Hill Golf Club, 17600 Clinton River Road, Clinton Township. Tickets are $40 and people are asked to bring an unwrapped toy or gift card for children from infants to teens. There is an open bar, music and dancing, a basket and 50-50 raffles. Get tickets at the Chapter Veterans Support Center, 18025 15 Mile Road, Clinton Township, usually open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; phone 586-791-8116. Ron Squires is the event chair. He can be reached at 586-747-8881.
Squires said that before COVID, more than 500 tickets were easily sold because it’s a “really good party,” but sales haven’t rebounded.
“You don’t have to be a veteran to come to prom, even though it’s a way for veterans to get together,” Squires said. “People can just come and support veterans. More the merrier, the merrier. It’s a way for everyone to ensure that the families of veterans have a good Christmas meal and that there are toys under the tree for the children. Forty bucks for music and good food and an open bar is a bargain.
Squires said there are boxes similar to the Toys For Tots boxes in the community, to collect toys for Operation Christmas.
Another way the chapter collects toys is to park a 1971 U.S. Army half-ton truck called a “two and a half” with a crew of veterans from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 4 and December 10 and 11. at Walmart Supercenter, 45400 Marketplace Blvd., Chesterfield.
Chris Scalise owns the vehicle normally used to transport troops and cargo, and keeps it at VFW 7573 in New Baltimore.
“I bought it for community activities,” he said. “But his main focus is trying to load him up with toys for Operation Christmas. We usually open the tailgate and have a ladder, so if the kids come with presents they can go ahead and climb up there. down and put the toys in. We let them sit behind the wheel and take pictures.
Some years they collect over a thousand dollars in toys and donations and almost fill the truck.
“The chapter guys help us out and we set up a canopy tent and maybe eat pizza and tell war stories and enjoy the camaraderie. We went there in good weather and in bad weather. We take turns going to Walmart and warming up. People have been very generous. The donations we collect are used to buy toys, and if we still need things, like hats and gloves,” Scalise said.
The Veterans Pantry provides year-round
Probably the section’s most important program is its veterans pantry. It started with a few groceries stored under the stairs of a member’s house and grew into a 1,200 square foot storage space for canned goods and dry goods with a walk-in fridge-freezer for cold products and meats. It is inspected and certified for safe food handling by the Macomb County Food Bank and Forgotten Harvest.
It serves approximately 2,500 Macomb County veterans, active duty personnel and their family members each year. His all-volunteer work team says it helps people not have to choose between buying food and things like their prescription drugs.
The food pantry depends entirely on the companies and individuals who contribute to it. St. Jane Frances Parish in Chantal recently donated 1,000 pounds of food.
Bell Forklift recently donated a self-propelled pallet truck to the pantry.
“This will make the work of bringing heavy pallets into the building easier and improve safety in inclement weather,” said pantry co-chairman Keith Edwards. “Chapter Member Jim Wisnoski helped facilitate Bell Forklift’s donation.”
“We’re all getting older and not as strong as we used to be, and the paddles are quite heavy,” Edwards said. “(Chapter Member) Jim Wisnoski heard us talking about it, so he told his neighbor who is a territory manager for Bell Forklift. They ended up giving us one. It’s a bit miraculous. You put the word out there and things happen.
“People can donate gift cards of any denomination, cash, canned or boxed. Everything is working. We just asked the Vietnam Gratitude Organization to donate a trailer full of paper goods – paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex, napkins – along with macaroni and cheese. At least two of their members are refugees who were born and raised in Vietnam. They made a similar donation last year. They’re just grateful to be in this country and to be able to do what they do,” Edwards said.
He also paid tribute to UAW Local 2280 for their recent donation of 40 frozen turkeys.
Free Services at the Veterans Support Center
There is a First Friday Veteran Coffee and Donut Hour from 9-10 a.m. at the Veteran Support Center, available to all Veterans. November’s speaker was Suzanne Sebree from Grace Counseling, who spoke about mental health and relationships.
Macomb County Veteran Navigators hosted coffee time. They help veterans find federal, state, and community resources to address their concerns and needs. Call Veteran Navigator at 586-200-7888 or 855-99-MCCMH. The 24-hour crisis line is: 586-307-9100.
The support center also hosts professional service agents from Macomb County Veterans Services, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, so veterans can learn about and apply for government benefits.
Send news from service clubs and veterans organizations to Linda May at [email protected] or call the landline 586-791-8116.