Successful Event at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix
By Mari Robles
On April 7th, Ipods for Wounded Veterans and Teamsters Local 104 conducted a successful event at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix. There was an immense turnout with more than 200 veterans present. Each veteran was given a Bose headset, their choice in magazines, and letters from local schools. Everyone was pleased with how successful the event turned out to be and were grateful to be part of this amazing experience.
The idea to create an event like this one started up back in June 2016. After meeting at the 29th IBT Convention in Las Vegas, Ipods for Wounded Veterans and Teamsters Local 104 decided to join forces to provide gifts and aid to the veterans in the Phoenix area. Although both of these organizations were close to 3,000 miles away, they were united by their dedication and admiration for veterans.
After many months and countless meetings with the VA, the event was officially scheduled for April 7th. Volunteers were unsure as to how many people would actually show up. The immense turnout astounded both the volunteers and the veterans present. Many of the veteran’s present had never experienced an event like this before.
For Teamsters Local 104 member George Birchby this event was “amazing experience to interact with the veterans that were there and to see how happy they were to be recognized”. George was astounded with the number of people present and the appreciation the volunteers received from the veterans. He recalls that “they were thanking us for what we did, which is so small for what they’ve done for us”.
Many of the men and women present had never seen an event like this before. They were all given Bose merchandise, magazines, and letters from local schoolchildren. The letters were greatly appreciated by the servicemen and women. The event also received attention from members of Washington including one congressman that flew in just to attend the event. It demonstrated that there was a strong sense of community present and that our veterans were not forgotten.
The importance of events like this one cannot be overlooked. George mentioned that his father, a Vietnam veteran who seldom talked about the war, was overwhelmed with what he saw. George’s father witnessed the joy it brought to many, including himself, and just wished that “they would’ve done something like this for us when we came home”.
Dawn Schumann, special coordinator for Teamsters Local 104, plans to conduct more events like this one in the future for that exact reason. After witnessing the success in the event she helped plan, Dawn’s goal is to visit all 4 VA hospitals in Arizona. This two-year campaign will bring much needed gifts, aid, and care to veterans.
The event in Phoenix will be one of many to come as Ipods for Wounded Veterans branches out to different parts of the country. It is the goal of the organization to show veterans the immense sense of gratitude we feel toward them because of their immense sacrifice. Ipods for Wounded Veterans will continue to strive to bring veterans the attention and care that they rightfully deserve.