VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Raising the Bar on Food, Fun and Fellowship
October 4, 2012 - Exclusively invited to a night of Food, Fun and Fellowship on September 18, Veterans from the Trauma Recovery Programs at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) Menlo Park division never thought they would ever experience such a great honor. Guided by the smell of barbecued chicken and tri-tip, they were warmly greeted by servers and staff to have a seat and enjoy the evening.
“We wanted to transport them from thinking of their diagnosis by touching their hearts and lifting their spirits,” said Dr. Jackson, Chief of Chaplain Services for VAPAHCS. “It was worth seeing their faces as they walked in to fun music, good food and an elegant setting.”
The Veterans were entertained by the VAPA Arts band, BIO Rhythms, who played a variety of “oldies but goodies," while catered food like home-made macaroni and cheese, barbecued chicken and smoked tri-tip was served.
“I was really surprised by everything including the food and music. I had so much fun; it was an event that I won’t forget,” said one of the Veterans from the Men’s PTSD program.
One Vietnam Veteran, a graduate of the PTSD Program, said with tears in his eyes, “This was my welcome home.”
The idea was born when Chaplain Service realized they had a large amount of contributions accumulated over the past few years from people who attend the worship services, memorial services and other gifts of gratitude. Noticing how many times she has seen Veterans having to barbecue or cook for themselves, Dr. Jackson knew that this blessing had to go right back to the Veterans in a way that demonstrated how much they were valued and appreciated, with a taste of class beyond their expectation.
Despite this being their first time setting up an event of this magnitude, Chaplain Service program support assistant, June Moss and Dr. Jackson pulled together a successful event. They were even more appreciative of the contributions of all the services that helped including Environmental Management Service, Engineering Services, Police Services, VAPA Arts, Medical Media, Logistics Management Service, Canteen Services, Contracting and of course, the support of VAPAHCS leadership. Dr. Jackson hopes to put together similar events for the other programs at Menlo Park.