If it wasn’t for this place, they’d be dead. Almost to a man, they say it. Dead from lack of health care or defeated by isolation.
“My mind would’ve killed me before my body. Just from loneliness, nobody to talk to,” says 53-year-old Tim Aurand, an army veteran who’s a resident of the Community Living Center at the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach. “I can’t offend anybody here. What we call humor, most normal people would run. We see life on a different scale than most people.”
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The VA Needs You
On the last Thursday of every month, Port St. Lucie’s American Legion Post 126 and the West Palm Beach chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart provide a hamburger and hot dog cookout for veterans staying at the VA’s Community Living Center in Riviera Beach. Other volunteers provide music and help serve the grilled lunch.
Says Mike Piccone, senior vice commander of the Purple Heart chapter in West Palm Beach, “We’ve all been in combat, and we know what these guys have been through. And we like helping them.”
Do you have time, money or items you’d like to donate to the VA Medical Center? The office of Voluntary Service can be reached at 561-422-7373.
A home for veterans
The U.S. Navy was the first service branch to establish a national home for veterans, approving it in 1811 and finally opening it in 1834 in the Philadelphia Naval Yard. The first Army national old soldiers’ home was established in Washington, D.C., in 1851 adjacent to National Cemetery, which was the first U.S. military cemetery. After the Civil War, the government built more National Military Homes, which were eventually taken over by the Department of Veterans Affairs.