Pennsylvania Legionnaire Dave Callahan’s father and mother-in-law both served in the U.S. military, and both spent their final months in a nursing home. Callahan said both parents were always happy when fellow veterans came to visit them in the home.
“Both of them were very, very proud of their military service,” said Callahan, a U.S. Army veteran and the honor guard commander of Frank W. Sidler American Legion Post 40 in Danville. “They would love it when (other veterans) would come.”
Callahan saw similar responses from other veterans when he and other members of Post 40 would annually visit all the nursing homes in the area. The post would deliver care packages and even provided a band.
“You could see the brightness on their face,” Callahan said. “It would cheer them up.”
But the coronavirus pandemic has kept Post 40 from making its holiday visits this year, so Callahan came up with an alternative to show those veterans in the homes they’re appreciated and remembered. With a video production background – Callahan has spent the past 15-20 years recording his church’s services, first on VHS and then DVD, and providing them to shut-ins – he began soliciting video greetings from others to compile and put on a DVD to provide to the nursing homes to show their residents. He’s also made himself available to record the messages himself.
What started as a small project has blossomed. Solicitations for submissions took off on Facebook, while local television, radio and newspaper provided media coverage. Callahan also sent out emails asking for contributions. “I’ve got submissions from people in California, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, that nature,” said Callahan, also noting that American Legion National Commander James “Bill” Oxford provided a video greeting. Others came from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, members of the state’s congressional delegation and local school districts, while the U.S. Army and Navy bands provided links to video clips for Callahan’s use in the video.
Callahan made it available online on YouTube at https://youtu.be/tKPPz2ROrXI ( VIDEO NAME: For Veterans in Nursing Homes at Christmas. 2020 From American legion Post 40 Danville Pa.) to allow others to both view it and share it with nursing homes in their area.
While Callahan has seen firsthand what it means for a veteran to receive a visit from a fellow veteran, knowing he’s helping recreate that experience was his motivation for the project.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: STEVE B. BROOKS