Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 19, 2011 at 5:28pm

446th Reservists ensure vets are never forgotten

Master Sgt. Elizabeth Riser, first sergeant for the 446th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, MCChord Field, chats with Mr. Henry Boggs, a Vietnam War veteran who lives at the American Lake Veterans Hospital in Tacoma, Wash. Reservists f

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MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- From Flanders Fields where poppy's grow, to what is known as the "Silent War," to the bloody battles of Saigon, we remember them. They are our heroes. They are veterans of the military. They will never be forgotten.

Twenty Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing spent time with veterans April 30 through the Visit a Veteran program at the American Lake Veterans Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.

"The 446th Airlift Wing has been a part of this program for three years," said Master Sgt. Elizabeth Riser, 446th Security Forces Squadron first sergeant. "I recently took it over because I am very passionate about it."

According to the American Red Cross, the purpose of the Visit a Vet program is to encourage individuals to visit the men and women who made the sacrifices that allow our lives to be as they are today.

"It's my duty to recognize their service," said Sergeant Riser. "It's very moving to see the joy on their faces when we come to visit them."

The veterans live at the hospital and are from the eras ranging from World War II to Vietnam. It brings a smile to each of their faces when they see servicemembers from all walks of life coming to spend time with them.

"All of us here really appreciate the attention we get," said Sgt. 1st Class (retired) Benjamin Newman, a Korean War veteran. "We didn't have this attention when we were serving. It was different times."
 
Sergeant Newman is a native of Baltimore, Md. He served 23 years in the Army with the 24th Infantry Company at Fort Meade, Md. He retired in 1969.

The Reservists volunteered their time during a training weekend to visit with the vets. They sacrificed more time away from their loved ones in addition to their busy training schedules. They did this selfless act of kindness not because they had to, but because they wanted to. According to each of them, they felt it was their duty. 

"I come here out of respect for the veterans," said Airman Devin Britton, a 21-year-old security forces apprentice with the 446th SFS. "I put myself in their shoes and if I was here I would want young members to do the same for me. Our attention is owed to them for what they've done."

"I think it's tremendous when young servicemembers come here," said Tech. Sgt. (retired) Henry Boggs, a Vietnam War veteran. "They are young and want to make a career of the military. I like to help and give advice." 

Sergeant  Boggs is a native of Selma, Ala. He served 21 years in the Air Force as a food service specialist. He retired in 1972 and he spends a lot of time painting.

Sergeant Riser said Reservists from the wing visit the VA hospital twice a year, but she would like to start going quarterly.

"It's important for them to know we haven't forgotten about them," said Sergeant Riser.

"I love it when servicemembers come to visit," said Tyrone Blacknell, a certified nurse's aide at the hospital. "It makes the vets feel like they are still a part of something."

American Lake VA Hospital was founded in 1923 to provide care for World War I veterans. Since then, they've expanded and now treat all people from the military.

"It's rewarding to talk to vets", said Chief Master Sgt. Dan Morris, superintendent of the 446th Maintenance Operations Flight. "A lot of them don't have family who visit them. I think it's good for them to know they are not forgotten."

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