By Will King, Fort Leavenworth LampFebruary 18, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Feb. 18, 2010) - Soldiers from Fort Leavenworth visited and shared stories with earlier generations of service members as part of the National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Feb. 11 at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Leavenworth, Kan.
The Soldiers spoke with veterans in the nursing home and Domiciliary building at the VA Medical Center.
Elliott Kidd, Voluntary Service chief for the VA's Eastern Kansas Health Care System, said the veterans appreciate any visitors they receive, but said there is a specific appeal to the veterans for those currently in the military.
"Based on their past experiences they're able to talk with those who are currently continuing on the efforts they made, the sacrifices that they made during their time in the military," Kidd said. "To see the individuals who are currently fulfilling that, I think it has a little more ring to them."
Kidd said he has noticed the interaction also affects service members who visit and speak with the veterans.
"It has a very profound effect in that a lot of times it's very inspirational for the Soldiers to talk with the veterans," he said.
Master Sgt. Britt Cogan ,of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, said he has been visiting veterans for several years. He said the visits are a good way to hear the veterans' stories and learn about history.
"It's a good way to support them and let them know they're appreciated," Cogan said. "They set the path to our freedom."
Cogan spoke with Bob Renkoski, a Kansas City native and long-time Leavenworth resident. Renkoski, a former rifleman and corporal in the 7th Infantry Division, said it was good to speak with current Soldiers.
"I look at them now and I can't believe I was ever that young and stout," Renkoski said.
Renkoski was wounded in the head by shrapnel during the Korean War and is partially paralyzed. His advice to Soldiers fighting today is to "keep your head down."
Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Strahl of Special Troops Battalion spoke with Lee Satterthwaite, a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War and a Purple Heart recipient.
"It's a good honor to get out and meet some of the other Soldiers that have dedicated their life to the service, the sacrifices that they have made, it's the same thing we're going through now," Strahl said.
Satterthwaite said it was difficult to put into words what it meant to him to interact with Strahl and the other Fort Leavenworth Soldiers.
Another veteran, Mary Turner, said she appreciated visiting with the Soldiers. Turner was a member of the Women's Army Corps assigned to 5th Army Headquarters in Chicago, Ill. She said she worked in recruiting and processing doctors, dentists and veterinarians into service during the Vietnam War.
"I think it's wonderful, I really do. I appreciate them doing that, and I appreciate them serving," Turner said.
Every month, Command and General Staff College students visit veterans at the Leavenworth VA Medical Center, Kidd said. For more information about the CGSC program or volunteering at the VA, contact Kidd at (913) 682-2000, extension 52017.