Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Hinesville clinic honors Veterans during holidays
On Dec. 7, the staff at the Hinesville VA Outpatient Clinic in Hinesville, Georgia, pulled out all the stops and coordinated a holiday lunch to honor area Veterans - including one very special member of the community, World War II Veteran William McLaughlin.
"The employees here were talking amongst themselves and this idea came about," said Reetta Marciano, psychiatrist in the Mental Health Clinic.
"The clinic staff pitched in the money to make this whole thing happen, which was so generous. I didn't expect it."
The festivities kicked off with the presentation of a shadow box and certificate of appreciation to 94-year-old Army Veteran William McLaughlin. McLaughlin is one of the few World War II Veterans residing in the Hinesville area and he receives regular treatment at the clinic.
"I appreciate all the actions and so on directed my way," McLaughlin said. "I feel that every Soldier or Sailor that puts on the uniform should have just as much attention, if not more, than I do in many ways. The military allows us to have so many experiences. It's a duty and an honor to serve."
Clinic Veterans were treated to a free holiday meal of turkey, ham, and all the fixings and were able to mingle and share war stories while they enjoyed their meal.
McLaughlin shook hands and posed for many photos with other Veterans and clinic staff during the event. Many said they were honored to meet him and thanked him for his bravery and sacrifice. McLaughlin also took great pleasure in telling tales of his time in the service, such as his role in helping prepare for the Invasion of Normandy, commonly referred to as D-Day, and the kindness he and a fellow soldier were shown by German citizens who housed them and hid their identities as American soldiers when Nazis came to search the premises.
VA employees served the Veterans during the meal and used the time to share their gratitude with those in attendance.
"We really wanted to make sure that our Veterans know that they appreciated, that we are thankful for them and for their service," said Marciano. "I think we did a good job of that today."
"It's just wonderful to be received like this," he said. "I can't thank them enough for putting this on."