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Wright-Patt volunteers bring Valentines to Veterans

Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th ABW commander, speaks with a veteran at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 14, 2019.

Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th ABW commander, speaks with a veteran at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 14, 2019. Volunteers from Wright-Patterson delivered valentines made by local school children as a part of the annual Valentines for Vets event. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Loren Deer)

Airmen laugh and exchange stories with veterans at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 14, 2019.

Airmen laugh and exchange stories with veterans at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 14, 2019. Volunteers from Wright-Patterson delivered valentines made by local school children as a part of the annual Valentines for Vets event. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Loren Deer)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Volunteers from Wright-Patterson visited the Dayton Veteran Affairs Medical Center to pass out valentines made by local elementary students to veterans during the annual ‘Valentines for Vets’ event.

The volunteers distributed valentines to various clinics across the VA to veterans from all branches of service.

“I think it’s a really good experience. Being new to the Air Force, they have a lot of knowledge behind them,” explained Airman First Class Mariah Villadores. “One of the veterans was telling me about how he served in the war and the experiences and friendships that he had. I hope to one day have those same experiences.”

Airmen made their way around the clinics, while listening to music from members of the Air Force Band of Flight, playing games and talking with veterans. For one veteran, this Valentine’s Day was about reflecting on his own service, over a game of checkers with one of the volunteers.

“We talked about our service in the military, their current service and how much it means to them and it lets me reflect back on how much it meant to me at that age,” said Michael Thompson, Sr., U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Among the volunteers was the 88th Air Base Wing Commander, Col. Thomas Sherman, and his wife Laurie, who were both touched by the afternoon spent with the veterans.

“For me on a personal level, having now served almost 24 years in the Air Force, and having had the opportunity to deploy, this is really a sense of the heart both on my level in my own service, but also having a father who was a Vietnam veteran,” said Sherman. “Many of the stories these men are sharing are very similar to the stories that my dad has told. On many levels this has just been so impactful for my wife and me.”

Since 1989, ‘Valentines for Vets’ has been about fellowship with those who have served before, and bridging the gap to those who currently serve.