COATESVILLE, PA — In a spirited celebration of the football season, the Coatesville VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center (CLC) hosted an Opening Day Event on September 21. This event, filled with fanfare and camaraderie, was a testament to the enduring love for sports among Veterans.
The Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, a nonprofit group, sponsored the event. The organization is committed to honoring Veterans receiving nursing home-level care by gifting them personalized football and baseball jerseys from professional sports teams.
“We visit long-term care facilities and hospitals, aiming to provide unique personalized gifts for the Veterans,” shared Dan Ocko, Secretary for Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors. The Veterans also received their own personalized sports card, complete with a backdrop featuring a football and helmet.
Among the attendees was Elmer Van Gorder, a Pennsylvania native and fervent 49ers fan. Despite being presented with an Eagles jersey, Van Gorder was deeply appreciative of the gesture.
“The jersey is something special to me. The point of it is they got it for me, and I appreciate it,” he said.
Van Gorder, who served three tours in Vietnam as part of the Navy’s construction force, the Seabees, has been receiving care at the VA since 1990. A little over a year ago, he chose the Coatesville VA’s nursing home when he needed a higher level of care.
The Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, comprised entirely of unpaid staff, sponsors Opening Day events for Veterans at all federal and state-run VA care facilities in Pennsylvania. Their mission is to give back to those who have given so much for our country.
“Veterans selflessly serve and protect our way of life. If they’re in a hospital or a long-term care facility after a lifetime of service, this is a really nice way to give a unique gift,” Ocko explained. “Something that they may have had earlier in their life, but might have lost when they moved to a hospital. Something that will last a lifetime.”
For Veterans who haven’t yet registered for care at the Coatesville VA, now is the time to do so. The center provides a wide range of services, from primary and specialized care to extended care and rehabilitation, designed to meet the unique needs of our nation’s heroes.
The opening day event was not only a celebration of the football season but also a tribute to the bravery and dedication of our Veterans. The joy and appreciation on the faces of the Veterans as they received their personalized jerseys were a testament to the power of small acts of kindness and the enduring spirit of community.
If you are interested in more information about volunteering or donating to Veterans, visit the VA’s volunteer or donate page.