Veterans help comrades at Veterans Home
By PATRICK MCArdle
Staff writer | July 14,2014
BENNINGTON — The Vermont Veterans Home has furnished a room that will give residents a peaceful place to think and recover with the help of a $30,000 donation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6471 in Manchester.
The ribbon was cut at the Namaste room Sunday, following a picnic lunch supported by the Vermont Veterans of Foreign Wars for all the residents.
Melissa Jackson, administrator at the home, explained that “namaste” is a Hindu word that means “honoring the spirit within.” The home already has one Namaste room which Jackson said had been copied not only across the country but in other countries like England and the Netherlands.
“We’ve had incredible success with this program, giving non-pharmacological interventions to anxiety and dementia behaviors, and we were finding that for our individuals with a mental illness or (multiple sclerosis) the soothing environment helped their symptoms as well,” she said.
The small room, about 10 feet by 15 feet, is now furnished with new, comfortable chairs and couches. It has a monitor that continually plays peaceful, relaxing images which on Sunday were pictures of puppies. The room also provides a view to a man-made trout fishing pond on the grounds of the home.
Al Faxon, the COO of the veterans home, said he made a presentation to the Manchester VFW after their members decided they wanted to make a donation.
“Once I showed them what we would like to do, they jumped right on board with it,” he said.
According to Faxon, the donation, which Manchester VFW members at the veterans home Sunday said may have been more than $30,000, has not only paid to furnish the Namaste room but provided couches and recliners that have been placed throughout the home.
“You won’t believe how this benefits our veterans and members that live here,” Faxon told the VFW members.
Post 6471 has supported the veterans home before. In 2012, their members donated more than $12,000 in outdoor furniture for the home.
Rein Tofer, commander of the Manchester VFW, said there are about 250 members of Post 6471 and they voted to use the majority of the money from an account specifically set aside to collect donations for their “comrade veterans” instead of for smaller projects around the Manchester area.
Joseph Krawczyk Jr., chairman of the Vermont Veterans Home’s board of trustees, said local donations like the one that furnished the Namaste room are important. He pointed out that the home is separate from the Veterans Administration and doesn’t have the multiple funding sources of the VA.
“It’s so important that the local community organizations, the service organizations and the fraternal organizations, contribute so much. … We struggle every year when we go up to the (Vermont) Legislature with our hand out to make sure we have enough money to take care of the veterans we have here,” he said.