Pa. TAG, leadership, Guardsmen in whirlwind tour of gratitude toward vets
By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond, 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 15, 2016
HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- The Adjutant General (TAG) of the Pa. National Guard Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli headed a cadre of Air and Army Guardsmen during the second stop of his holiday tour, which took place at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home, Philadelphia, Dec. 13.
On Dec. 12, a visit to the Gino J. Merli Veterans' Center in Scranton kicked off the proposed 10-day convoy to six veteran rehabilitation and care facilities across the state - from Scranton to Pittsburgh - for Carrelli, the state's senior military leadership and Pa. Guardsmen.
"We're here to say, 'Thank you' to our veterans," Carrelli said at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home. "Those of us who serve today stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. And this building is full of generations of Americans who answered the call during their time."
Deputy Adjutant General - Air for the Pa. National Guard Col. Mike Regan, echoed the TAG's statement.
"These veterans blazed a trail for us and sometimes we may forget that," said Regan, who commands the Pa. Air National Guard. "But during this time of year, we come out and we are reminded of what they have done."
While it can be assumed the veterans enjoyed the appreciation and accolades, the military members also benefited.
"The military members here today get to talk with the residents to hear some of their experiences and compare it to how service is today," said Commandant of the Delaware Valley Veterans Home Peter Ojeda. "Basically, it's a learning experience - a history lesson."
Lessons aside, visiting the vets also provided the Pa. Guard members with a feel-good response that reflects the sentiment of the season.
"Once you join [the military], you become part of the [military] family," said Sergeant 1st Class Nicholas Davis, an Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site military instructor, Fort Indiantown Gap, Annville, Pennsylvania. "Reaching out during this time of the year to extend that openness...gives me great pride in being able to come out and thank this veterans."
Master Sgt. James Mehlberger, 111th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle fleet manager here, was one of the approximately 50 Pa. Guard members to attend the veterans visit. He along with his Air and Army counterparts were greeted by residents upon arrival, before being escorted by staff to visit vets in different wings of the home. After nearly two hours of introductions, shaking hands and sharing stories, the residents and service members communed over a lunch provided by the Delaware Valley Veterans Home staff.
During the event, cheer seemed evident upon the faces of current military attendees, the veteran residents, as well as the staff. Generational gaps, titles and ranks appeared to be replaced by generosity, talk and revelries.
"While it is certainly wonderful that Guardsmen come out to visit these veterans on holidays, let's keep something in mind," said Regan. "These [veteran facilities] are within a reasonable drive for all of us across the state. And every once in a while, we should come out to visit them when it's not a holiday, just to remind them that we are grateful for their service and haven't forgotten them."