By Mr. Robert P Johnson (Leonard Wood)February 15, 2017
When the Military Police Advanced Leaders Course 002-17 looked for a community service project, they looked no further than the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James, Missouri, and on Saturday, the class descended on the home with buckets, mops and rakes in hand.
"We brought over 65 members of our ALC class to lend a hand and help do some early spring cleaning," said Sgt. Chris Colley, 59th Military Police Company, Fort Carson, Colorado. "We collected ideas for a community project from the class and we narrowed it down very quickly to helping the veterans home. We wanted to give back to the community, and this is something where we can give back directly to the service members that served before us."
The class spent the day raking up gum tree seed pods, washing windows and cleaning the home's fleet of vehicles, Colley said.
After the work was done, the class prepared hamburgers and hot dogs for the veterans home residents and the class.
"It took a lot of coordination and we started talking to the personnel here about three weeks ago," Colley said.
The staff at the veterans home was surprised at the turnout and grateful for the support from the ALC class.
"They certainly showed up in force today," said Brenda Ortiz, Activity 2 for the Missouri Veterans Home. "But they are taking care of so many things today, that it is really great for the home. We're getting lawn maintenance done, and several of the members will be assisting in passing out lunch trays to our residents. It's really great."
In addition to the work, the Soldiers enjoyed lunch with the veterans and shared "war" stories about their time in service.
Also on the veterans home grounds on Saturday were members of the Fort Leonard Wood Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, who handed out Valentine gift boxes to the veterans and spent time playing games and talking with residents.
"We wanted to do something in regards to Valentine's Day and make sure these veterans weren't forgotten," said Sgt. Paville Simpson, BOSS president. "It's really an honor to do this, and it's great to hear their stories and share their military experience."
In the end, the Soldiers gave back more than just a cleaner place to live; they made a difference in the lives of the veterans.
"It's very important for these visits where the Soldiers spend time with our residents. Our veterans really love it when the Soldiers visit, and it means a great deal to them to have these young service members spend time with them. And for that, we are very thankful," Ortiz said.