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Pennsylvania National Guard represents U.S. military at holiday veteran’s home visit

Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), greets a resident of the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home, Philadelphia, during a holiday-themed visit by Pa. National Guardsmen Dec. 14. 2017. Airmen and Soldiers of the Commonwealth not only play a critical role operationally, but also as ambassadors for the U.S. military. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), greets a resident of the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home, Philadelphia, during a holiday-themed visit by Pa. National Guardsmen Dec. 14. 2017. Airmen and Soldiers of the Commonwealth not only play a critical role operationally, but also as ambassadors for the U.S. military. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Capt. Dan Taylor, 111th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics officer out of Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., volunteers at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home, Philadelphia, by pouring drinks for the residents and their families during a Pa. National Guard visit Dec. 14, 2017. An annual event, the service members shared conversation and a meal with approximately 170 veterans and their families. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Capt. Dan Taylor, 111th Logistics Readiness Squadron logistics officer out of Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., volunteers at the Delaware Valley Veterans Home, Philadelphia, by pouring drinks for the residents and their families during a Pa. National Guard visit Dec. 14, 2017. An annual event, the service members shared conversation and a meal with approximately 170 veterans and their families. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Sees, Delta Company, Pa. Army National Guard recruiter based out of the Southampton Armory, Philadelphia, serves a meal to a resident of the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home, Philadelphia, Dec. 14, 2017. Pa. Air and Army Guardsmen visited residents and their families for a holiday-themed event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Sees, Delta Company, Pa. Army National Guard recruiter based out of the Southampton Armory, Philadelphia, serves a meal to a resident of the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home, Philadelphia, Dec. 14, 2017. Pa. Air and Army Guardsmen visited residents and their families for a holiday-themed event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

PHILADELPHIA -- Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania's adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), led a cadre of the State’s Airmen and Soldiers on a holiday-themed mission Dec. 14 to the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home here.

At the annual event, service members shared conversation and a meal with approximately 170 veterans and their families. For many of the retired Pennsylvania-based vets, this may be their sole opportunity to interact with currently serving uniformed service members during the year. The Commonwealth’s Airmen and Soldiers have come to not only play a critical role operationally, but also to serve as ambassadors for the U.S. military in Pennsylvania.

“It’s unique in Pennsylvania because of how large the Pa. Guard is, 20,000 members and the third largest [National Guard] in the country, and the fact that there’s an absence of a large-scale active duty [military],” said Carrelli.

With no major active duty military bases and such a large National Guard, the Pa. Guard’s dual role of state and federal service is highlighted here, while Army and Air Guardsmen embody service in their respective communities in both appearance and action.

One veterans home resident, whose name is not released due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, stated that he looks forward to seeing the military uniforms and talking with fellow service members.

“Nobody knows us, except us,” he said. “Okay, so we’ve all been in different wars and things have changed from when I was in [the military], but it’s still makes me happy to talk to another Soldier – even if he’s 50 years younger.”

Carrelli headed a delegation of Guardsmen from the Horsham Air Guard Station, Fort Indiantown Gap and other locations around the state. Many of those who attended have a personal fervor for volunteering in such events.

“We’re the Guard, so we are the community’s army; it’s is who we are, it’s what we do,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Sees, Delta Company, Pa. Army National Guard recruiter based out of the Southampton Armory here. “Coming out to this event reminds me of listening to my grandfather, who was a WWII vet, talk about his stories. I could listen to them over and over again because it made him light up.”

Sees said that listening to the stories of those at the Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home has the same effect. He explained that bringing joy to the retired veterans is what inspires him to participate in this event.

While the National Guard continues its forward focus of confronting threats within a complex security environment, the responsibility of representing the profession of arms is not overlooked by Pa. National Guardsmen.

“Essentially, if you’re walking anywhere in the Commonwealth and you see someone wearing a uniform, more than likely they’re Guard; so, we are carrying the flag for the U.S. military in Pennsylvania,” stated Carrelli. “So, when we talk about having appreciation and a relationship with our veterans, who’s going to do it? We are.”