Reservist, Miami Surgeon helps homeless veterans during Thanksgiving dinner
December 3, 2008
<b>MIAMI </b>- As thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers gathered on Thanksgiving Day with their families, friends and comrades abroad, one Soldier spent the day helping seemingly unforgotten American heroes in need.
Dr. (Col.) Chance Kaplan greeted more than 200 homeless veterans who arrived at Miami's Bruce W. Carter Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a Thanksgiving feast donated by a local restaurant.
Kaplan, an Army Reserve surgeon assigned to the 81st Regional Support Command and a prominent plastic surgeon in Miami, lead an army of volunteers from the hospital, The Capital Grille restaurant and area community members to bring large home-style dinners to those service members who have served their country with honor.
"Dr. Kaplan is an amazing, incredible person with a great heart," said Mercy Iglesias, the sales and marketing manager for The Capital Grille. "Without a doubt, his heart is in the right place as a person and a Soldier."
Iglesias said the feast provided more than just a meal, but showed veterans that people do care and are not forgotten.
Kaplan said he wouldn't have spent Thanksgiving anywhere else.
"Who wouldn't want to serve our veterans," he said. "We need to be there for them."
Both Kaplan and Iglesias agreed that spending the day helping veterans was an amazing event for everyone involved.
"What can we do as citizens to make a difference in someone's life," Iglesias asked. "Without any doubt, this is it."
Kaplan is no stranger to helping others in need. He has performed cleft lip and cleft palette operations worldwide with Operation Smile and World Journey of Hope.
"Colonel Kaplan is giving back to his community, which is the right thing to do," said Maj. Gen. Charles E. Gorton, 81st RSC commanding general.
Gorton said Kaplan, like every Reserve Soldier, is an integral part of the community.
"The Army Reserve is a community-based force," Gorton said. "It draws its strength and support from communities. Army Reserve Soldiers have many skills and have much to contribute back to their communities."