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August 12, 2008
A Veteran on a Mission
|Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Phil Hawkins|
|Denice VanDoren photo|
EAGLE, Idaho (STPNS) -- By Denice VanDoren
Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Phil Hawkins is a tall, lanky man that is determined. He is on a mission to help his fellow veterans, especially those at the Boise Veterans Home. There are men and women that have served this country through the years that are now encountering health problems. The budget is non-existent for any activities or sundries above basic care for these veterans. And although medical care is vital, Phil Hawkins is committed to making sure that the veterans at the Boise Veterans Home have dignity and a little fun now and then.
Phil served over twenty-nine years in the US Army before retiring in 1991. He was exposed to Agent Orange and does have some residual effects from that. He runs every day, sometimes as many as twelve miles, because it helps alleviate some of the symptoms. He attends every funeral at the Veterans Cemetery; simply to ?pay respect to a veteran.?
He has been the Volunteer Coordinator for the Boise Veterans Home for the past eighteen years and is responsible for all of the fundraising programs. There is NO budget for activities or events for the veterans, so any funding for this must be secured through donations and fundraisers. Phil works with the Veterans Assistance League, and they provide administrative services for the donations.
The Veterans Advocacy office is also a close contact. As Phil says, ?What is really sad is that we got them (our veterans) home and now they are not getting the help that they need. There are services out there to help them, but a lot of them don?t know where to go to get that help.?
The funds donated and raised for the veterans are distributed in a variety of ways. There is a canteen at the Veterans Home and some of the veterans do not have ?pocket change? to buy various sundries. The program provides that for them. There is a haircutting service that is offered and for those that do not have the money to pay, the program provides it. Phil has even organized an Anniversary Dinner Night for veterans that are patients. The program hosts a private dinner for the couple celebrating their anniversary. Some of these are seemingly small items, but mean a lot in terms of maintaining dignity and normalcy.
There is an event this fall that Phil and his team are already starting to plan for. This year marks the 21st Annual Veterans Olympics. It is held the third Saturday each September, this year, it will be on September 20th. There are usually 250-300 participants and this will mark the nineteenth year that the Mountain Home High School Marching Band has led the parade. Mountain Home AFB provides assistance for the event as well. Every athlete that participates receives a medal and the events are varied, depending on the physical ability of the veteran.
They also hold a contest every year that is open to all Junior and Senior High School students to submit designs for the T-Shirts that are sold to raise money for the organization.
Phil Hawkins is a man with a heart and a veteran on a mission. He wants to make sure that our veterans are not forgotten and can live with dignity and respect. We salute you, Phil Hawkins.
All of the activities require funds in order to continue providing these much needed activities and services for the veterans. Donations and volunteers are always needed. If you are interested in finding out more, call Phil Hawkins at 246-8750 or Jackie at 246-8727.
Boise Veterans Home: 320 Collins Road, Boise, Idaho 83702, Phone : 208-246-8736, Fax: 208-334-4753, E-Mail ? email@example.com.
For more information about services that are available for veterans or their survivors, please visit www.veterans.idaho.gov. The Boise Office of Veterans Advocacy is located in the VA Regional Office at 805 W. Franklin Street. Room 201, Boise, ID 83702-5560. Telephone (208) 334-1245.
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