JWV Post 549 Hosts Jewish Style Dinners for Blind Veterans at WPB VA Hospital.
In attempting to reign in costs and improve care, the VA has dedicated certain projects to a limited number of their hospitals and centers. These are centers of excellence indicating that the skills being taught at the specialized centers are limited in demand and expensive to provide.As the eligible VA patient population has aged, retinal macular degeneration and glaucoma have become diseases increasingly experienced by veterans. Macular degeneration is a progressive disease with limited and expensive therapeutic modalities available.
Additionally, the disease process robs the patient of their ability to accomplish tasks necessary for daily life. The centers bring patients in from across the country to teach them how to cope with their limitations. Additionally, the VA provides specialized computer training and equipment for the veterans to take home with them, to enhance their quality of life.
The West Palm Beach VA Hospital is one of only eleven hospitals across the country offering this training. Veterans are scheduled for residential training months in advance from areas throughout the eastern United States. As a result, many of the veterans in 7 South are away from their home and family. They may suffer from Emotional detachment, detachment from familiar surroundings and confusion since they have limited visual means to understand their surroundings. The hospital attempts to moderate this sense of withdrawal by scheduling the veterans for day trips, but dinner, which traditionally is a time of gathering of family and friends is in the dining room on 7 South, a hospital room.Post 549 attempts to change this situation. After the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States, everyone,including the VA staff, partakes in a Kosher style meal. Additionally, the veterans can enjoy the companionship of other veterans, something not usually available to them. We have delicious food delivered and the members of Post 549 and some of their wives sit at each table with the hospitalized veterans to provide idle conversation, tales, some fanciful, and talk to change the whole dynamic of that day. As best we know, we are the only veterans post that does such a project in the U.S.
The veterans, return home after weeks of gaining new skills with a better quality of life and can tell of their introduction to Jewish food and what Jewish American veterans have done for them.
Ralph A Milliken
Past Commander, Post 549
Martin County, Florida